It’s not the regular season anymore, Baltimore: Jim Johnson gets roughed up

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A close game and the Orioles going to the bullpen?  That was money in the bank all season long.  But now it’s the playoffs and nothing that came before mattered. And tonight the Orioles faithful saw something unusual: their All-Star closer get beat around and turn a 2-2 tie game in the ninth into a 7-2 loss in a New York minute.

The O’s and Yanks played it tight for eight innings, with runs scoring for New York on an Ichiro double and a Mark Teixeira single. Those hits surrounded a Nate McLouth two-run single. Baltimore and New York remained tied at two from the fourth through ninth inning.

The turning point came in the bottom of the eighth when J.J. Hardy reached on a leadoff double. CC Sabathia, hovering around a hundred pitches, may have been yanked in other circumstances, but Joe Girardi kept him in and was rewarded for it: the big guy struck out Adam Jones, induced a foul out by Matt Wieters and then got Mark Reynolds to ground out to short.

Buck Showalter called on Jim Johnson to handle the ninth. Not a bad call, actually. The bullpen has been the O’s meal ticket all year and Johnson hadn’t given up a run since September 8 en route to a 51 save season. He immediately gave up a run, however, in the form of a dinger to Russell Martin.  After that the wheels fell off, with Johnson surrendering five runs total on an assortment of hits and a sacrifice fly.

Hard to criticize Buck Showalter for going with his closer in a tie game at home. Sometimes, though, things just don’t work out the way they had been working out before.

The Mets are strongarming Devin Mesoraco into retiring

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The Mets told catcher Devin Mesoraco on Saturday that he will not make the team, Mike Puma of the New York Post reported. Mesoraco, a major league veteran of eight seasons, said he won’t accept a reassignment to Triple-A. According to Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports, the Mets will place Mesoraco on the restricted list rather than release him. As a result, Mesoraco is expected to retire from baseball.

This is a bad look for the Mets. Most teams release the major league-caliber players they don’t plan to break camp with so they can pursue opportunities elsewhere. The Mets must really be hurting for catching depth.

Mesoraco, 30, was decent as the Mets’ back-up last season after coming over from the Reds in the Matt Harvey deal, batting .222/.306/.409 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI in 229 plate appearances. Mesoraco is a bit below-average defensively and spent much of the mid-2010’s on the disabled list dealing with hip and shoulder injuries.

On Monday afternoon, the Mets signed free agent catcher René Rivera, per SNY’s Andy Martino. Rivera was recently released by the Giants. He is less potent with the bat than Mesoraco, but a bit better defensively. Rivera will back up Wilson Ramos and Travis d'Arnaud will likely open the season on the injured list. Tomás Nido will be the third-string catcher behind Rivera.