OAKLAND -- It's hard to imagine a $10-million man with 100-plus saves over the past two seasons could be so ineffective in a pitcher's ballpark, but the Jim Johnson experiment is over in Oakland.
The A's designated their one-time closer for assignment on Thursday morning after he made Wednesday's 9-7 win over the Astros interesting by allowing four runs without recording an out in the eighth inning.
Johnson has allowed 12 runs on 13 hits over 4 1/3 innings in his last five games. His 6.92 ERA and .434 opponents on-base percentage are the highest among all major league relievers, and his .353 opponents batting average is the highest in the American League.
"It just didn't happen here," manager Bob Melvin said before Thursday's game. "Very tough. There's a human side to all this
"It's not like he wasn't accountable. It's not like he didn't feel bad about it."
But feelings are out the window when the A's have the best record in the majors at 62-38 and nurse just a two-game division lead over the Angels. Oakland can't afford a dud in the 'pen.
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"It started out bad, and he just couldn't get into a spot where he could get on a roll. It just snowballed on him."
Johnson allowed five runs over his first two appearances in Green and Gold, suffering two losses, a blown save, and the Coliseum wrath. Early boos from the A's fan base established a troubled tone for Johnson's stay in Oakland.
"It's hard to get booed at home," Melvin said. "Nobody likes it.
"It's hard to keep tabs, but it probably affected him."
Still, Melvin doesn't think we've seen the last of the 6-foot-6, 230-pound pitcher.
"Maybe the best thing is a change of scenery," Melvin said. "It wouldn't surprise me if he gets picked up and starts pitching better."
Johnson, whose teammates acknowledged how disappointed he was, left before talking with reporters.