There comes a time in a young pitcher's career when he must face this nightmare: bases loaded, no outs, one-run game, Ken Griffey Jr. coming to the plate, Alex Rodriguez on deck.
Jason Johnson may have felt ready to face it in the fifth inning Friday night. But Ray Miller wasn't ready to see it.
So Miller, the Baltimore Orioles' manager, removed Johnson from the game, bringing in left-hander Arthur Rhodes. Two batters later, Rodriguez bashed a grand slam off Rhodes, and the Seattle Mariners were on their way to a 7-4 victory.
Johnson was upset about many things Friday night -- his own subpar performance, a stingy strike zone -- but Miller's early hook particularly set him off.
"I wasn't tired," Johnson said. "I didn't understand why I was taken out. But that was the manager's decision. I can't do anything about it."
"He lost a little control of himself out there," Miller said. "He tried to overthrow a little bit. But I have patience with that because Jason is going to be a very good major league pitcher. . . . The bottom line is he walked three guys and hit one, and three of the four scored."
Rhodes struck out Griffey for the first out, but Rodriguez went down and yanked a low fastball along the left field line for a grand slam. Jay Buhner added a solo homer off Rhodes two batters later.
Until the fifth inning, Johnson (2-5) had been working on a three-hit shutout. "I was trying to make perfect pitches," Johnson said of his fifth-inning troubles. "I should've gone right at them because I had a two-run lead. It's my own fault."
"He's a young kid," Miller said. "He'll get better and better."
Anderson Rests Sore Ankle
Center fielder Brady Anderson was held out of today's lineup again because of continuing soreness in his left ankle. However, he was available to pinch-hit, which is more than he was able to do Friday night.
Anderson's ankle "needs more time," Miller said today. "He's day-to-day." Anderson injured the ankle when he planted his foot in the center field wall attempting to make a leaping catch Wednesday at Camden Yards. . . .
Before the game, the Mariners activated newly acquired reliever Tom Davey, and optioned reliever Ken Cloude to Class AAA Tacoma.
Data: Orioles at Seattle Mariners
Site: Safeco Field
Radio: WTOP-1500, WBAL-1090, WTOP-FM-107.7 and WMJS-FM-92.7.
Records: Orioles 46-57, 16A games out of first place in AL East.
Mariners 50-53, 11A games out of first place in AL West.
W-L ERA13-3 3.69
W-L ERA4-12 7.06