Here's how Wednesday night went for Oakland A's reliever Jim Johnson. Manager Bob Melvin brought him in to start the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in a game the A's were leading 9-2. It figured to be a situation that would not put Johnson, a former elite closer who lost that job in the opening week of the season, under undue stress. And then the Astros came to bat.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve led off with an infield single. Catcher Jason Castro singled to right, sending Altuve to second. Designated hitter Chris Carter doubled to the wall in left center, scoring Altuve and moving Castro to third. Left fielder Mark Krauss singled to center, scoring Castro and sending Carter to third.
That was the end of Johnson's night: Eleven pitches, four batters faced, four hits and (eventually) four runs. As it turned out, it's also the apparent end of Johnson's short, ugly A's career.
The team announced Thursday that it had designated Johnson for assignment. That means Johnson's off the Athletics' 40-man roster while he and the team figure out what to do next.
At least one major league team has reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Johnson, who saved 101 games the past two seasons before flopping this year. His greatest accomplishment may have been wringing a $10 million contract for this season from a team that's famously careful about committing to high player salaries.