One day after his demotion from the closer’s role with Oakland, Jim Johnson gave the A’s a tantalizing look at what he could offer as the closer.
Johnson pitched two innings of relief in a game that wasn’t close when he came in and retired all six batters he faced. He struck out four of the six.
“That’s the best we’ve seen him,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.
That came a day after Melvin said that he was going to go with a closer by committee. And when it seemed the A’s might need a closer after whittling their deficit to the A’s from 6-0 to 6-4, it was Sean Doolittle who was warming up in the ninth.
That’s not to say that Doolittle is the de facto closer. The Mariners would have had the left-handed Robinson Cano and the switch-hitting Justin Smoak up as their first two batters, so the matchup called for Doolittle over Dan Otero or Luke Gregerson.
Where does that leave Johnson? Well he’s in a better place now than he was 48 hours earlier in terms of reclaiming his job.
But Melvin was clear to state that the committee struck still exists and that Johnson is not, for the moment part of it.
The manager did say earlier in the day, however, that he could see a scenario where Johnson would be the closer again.
More innings like the two he showed Friday – everything on the corners and down in the strike zone with his sinker biting – would get him their post haste.