Looking back at J.J., ahead to Lester

Jim Johnson has made two appearances since coming off the disabled list, and they’ve been under drastically different circumstances.

He entered a 5-0 game in the ninth inning, manager Buck Showalter’s way of easing him back into major league competition. And he replaced Brian Matusz last night with the potential tying run on first base and no outs in the seventh.

The easing process didn’t take long.

Johnson gave up a single before retiring the next three batters, striking out pinch-hitter Daniel Nava on a curveball to end the inning. The pitch appeared to be outside, but the Orioles are tired of being on the other end of that argument.

“I felt good to get back out there in the thick of things,” Johnson said afterward. “It’s been a long time. It’s a little different than obviously the last outing I had with the situation. Unfortunately, I got myself in a little jam there. Brian pitched his butt off. I was just trying to do everything I could to help him win a game.”

Victor Martinez singled off Johnson leading off the eighth, and Showalter replaced him with Michael Gonzalez.

“I didn’t feel good about sending him back out there for the next inning. He emptied his tank a little bit there emotionally,” Showalter said. “We wanted to turn Victor around. Victor’s been so hot right-handed. He’s just a good hitter, period, and we felt like if nothing else, J.J. would keep him in the ballpark there.

“J.J. was impressive. You can see why a lot of people say good things about him.”

Here are a few numbers for you to crunch at lunchtime, courtesy of MASN’s Kal Patel:

The top five teams in the AL since Aug 3:

1. Twins 17-9
2. Orioles 17-10
3. Yankees 16-11
4. Rays 15-12
5. Blue Jays and Red Sox 14-12

The Orioles are tied with the Rangers for most shutouts in the AL since Aug 3 with four.

The Orioles have the second-best ERA in the AL since Aug 3 at 3.31. The A’s are first at 2.88. The Orioles have allowed the fewest walks since that date with 64.

You already know that Red Sox starter Jon Lester is 12-0 vs. the Orioles. Perhaps more disturbing, the Orioles have scored more than three runs in only one game in those 12 decisions - Sept 19, 2009, when Boston prevailed, 11-5. The Orioles scored twice in the bottom of the ninth.

The Red Sox have outscored the Orioles, 82-24, in those 12 wins.

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