Jim Johnson's flawed perfection a thing of beauty for Orioles

If the Orioles shock the world and actually make the playoffs this season, I wonder whether they'll have to forfeit because they've run out of healthy bodies.

It's getting ridiculous.

Robert Andino's new baby might need to start taking batting practice next week. And grab a glove, kid.

Tsuyoshi Wada has a damaged ligament in his elbow, quite possibly a tear, and he may not pitch this year. And yes, the joke has already been made that "Wada" is Japanese for "Duchscherer." You're too late.

Nolan Reimold is still day-to-day with neck stiffness that worsens each time he tries to play.

Jim Johnson still might be in the hospital. That's where you could have found him last night around the fourth inning.

The virus that's hit the Orioles' clubhouse used both fists on Johnson. He's not likely to be available tonight.

Reimold is batting .370/.383/.783 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 11 games. Johnson is 7-for-7 in save opportunities. You sort of hate to lose those guys.

Johnson deserves a lot of credit for the Orioles' fast start. Blown saves can demoralize a team, especially one that must scratch and claw for every victory.

Johnson hasn't blown a save, but he also hasn't breezed through the opposition. (See what I did there?) He's had one clean appearance out of eight - his second of the season - but he hasn't surrendered a run.

Over 7 2/3 innings, Johnson has allowed six hits, walked four batters and hit two others. He loaded the bases with two outs on Thursday against the White Sox before nailing down the save.

The bottom line is the end result, and Johnson remains perfect.

Manager Buck Showalter isn't dwelling on the stress level, just the fact that Johnson keeps getting that final out.

"It's the nature of the job," Showalter said. "It's just because of the finality. If you have those same situations in the seventh and eighth innings, you might not be asking this question (about stress). And I understand there's that dangling W sitting there with one or two outs to get and some guy's on third and all the other things and the plane's warmed up.

"The ability to close a one-run game on the road is the big separater for closers. And I like the finished product. Are they stressful? I don't know. I think it's because you know you're that close to having a W. Tell me how many of them have that guy (Mariano Rivera) sitting over in New York that we all hope retires this year. There aren't many of them floating around. It's a hard job, really hard. That's why not many people can do it.

"Jimmy's been doing this. He did a good job in September and he's done it a little bit before in his career. I'm real happy where he is. If you're looking for comfort, when there's two outs and nobody on, I don't consider that comfortable, either."

Showalter wasn't on the bench for Sunday's save in Anaheim, when Johnson allowed a hit, because he had been ejected earlier in the game.

"If you think it's uncomfortable in the dugout, you should sit in the clubhouse in Anaheim and watch," Showalter quipped. "I had everybody moving around in different seats and stuff. They don't want me up there anymore, I can tell you that, the guys in the clubhouse.

"I think sometimes we think that anybody can (close). It's not always going to be comfortable because you've got good hitters. And I think the sense of urgency and the sense of concentration with position players, they rev it up, too, in that inning because they know the game's almost over and they're getting ready to lose. There are no, 'We'll get them next' innings. The offense is that way, too.

"It's a hard job because everybody's operating on the top of their game that inning. It shouldn't be that way, but it is."

Johnson has been on top at the end of his appearances. Now he just needs to get back on his feet.

Down on somebody else's farm, former Orioles third baseman Josh Bell homered twice and drove in five runs last night for Triple-A Reno.

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