Matthew Taylor: J. Johnson, Davis and O’s still have something to play for

The Orioles and Red Sox wrap up the 2013 regular season with a three-game set at Camden Yards starting this evening. Both teams’ regular season fates have been decided, but these remaining games aren’t as meaningless as they might seem. (And I’m not talking about the opportunities that Chris Davis has to increase his team records for home runs and extra-base hits, although those matter, too.)

With one win, the O’s could earn consecutive season series victories against Boston for the first time since 1991 and 1992. If you’re like me and you took personally all the losing to Boston and all the ballpark takeovers at Camden Yards during the Orioles’ 14-year stretch of misery, that’s significant.

Also significant is the fact that with two saves, Jim Johnson and his teammates could become part of some pretty rare baseball history

Johnson is currently two saves short of 50. Were he to pick those saves up in this series, he would become the second closer to notch 50 saves in consecutive seasons. Eric Gagne is the only pitcher to have done so thus far with 52 saves in 2002 and 55 saves in 2003.

Besides Gagne, Mariano Rivera is the only other pitcher to even have two 50-save seasons in an entire career. Rivera saved 50 games in 2001 and 53 saves in 2004. Perhaps you saw the emotional tribute that took place Thursday night at Yankee Stadium as the future Hall of Famer took the bump for the final time at home. That’s not bad company for Johnson to associate himself with.

Overall, closers have reached the half-century mark only a dozen times. It would matter for Johnson to do it a second time.

There’s another reason that the No. 50 would be significant for Johnson and the Orioles. Namely, Johnson would combine with Davis to become the first pair of teammates to reach 50 saves and 50 home runs in the same season. It’s never been done before.

And if you really want to parse the numbers, the Orioles could also become the first team to have a player with 50 homers, another with 50 saves, and a third with 50 doubles (Manny Machado leads the AL with 51).

Perhaps you’re feeling 50-50 about the Orioles season given that they posted a winning season, but failed to return to the playoffs. You might also feel 50-50 about Johnson given that he leads the league not only in saves, but also in blown saves. Regardless, this would be a good weekend to provide 100-percent support to the home team and its closer.

Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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