“Let us get through (tonight),” Showalter said. “We’ve got a lot of moving parts right now. He certainly presented himself well tonight.”
“Stevie was good, huh?” Showalter said. “That was fun to watch. I tried to watch it as a manager trying to win a game, but also a fan of those type of situations.”
Showalter went to his bullpen with Johnson’s pitch count at 97.
“He got a little tired at the end, throwing around 100 pitches with the schedule he’s had,” Showalter said. “I wanted to send him back out there for one hitter in the next inning, but I didn’t want Troy (Patton) to come into an unclean inning. I would have liked him to come off the mound, but it just wasn’t in his best interest.”
Asked about Johnson throwing all 12 pitches for strikes in the first inning, Showalter said, “I just sit down and grab a position and see what the game has in store for us. It doesn’t disappoint, good and bad. There’s always something out there that you realize... I try not to think too much what’s going through his mind, his family’s mind, everything. We really wanted Steve to have success tonight for him and for the club. He was good, command of the fastball.”
Then came the second inning and Johnson’s bases-loaded escape.
“He had some shutdown innings after we scored some runs, attacked the strike zone with good pitches,” Showalter said. “A lot of people just start throwing balls right down the middle, thinking, ‘All I have to do is throw strikes.’ He didn’t. He made quality strikes. He competed well in that inning.
“What a night (Matt) Wieters had after catching that ballgame. I came close to not catching him today. He’s a very calming influence on young pitchers. It’s important to Matt to be out there with Steve today.
“It was just a guy wearing our colors pitching for us tonight we hoped could give us a chance to win. That was the biggest part of it. This guy is a Baltimore guy. He’s been with us. His dad ... it means something to me personally.
“You see a guy that grew up here, grew up with the Orioles and the whole nine yards, and I think he’s mature enough to know how fleeting it can be. And he’ll get ready to pitch again.”
Wieters did a nice job of guiding Johnson through those six innings.
“He was good,” Wieters said. “Any time you can come in with 12 straight strikes, you could see that he wasn’t intimidated out there. That was the biggest thing. He was able to mix in his off-speed early, and his fastball, he was able to use with deception and sneakiness.
“He had some big innings where he put on some runners and we were able to come up with zeros. It was huge. We were able to extend the lead a little bit. With the way the bullpen was sort of taxed last night, to get him to go six and only two runs is great.”
Wieters could have rested after catching 14 innings last night, but the thought never crossed his mind.
“It’s nice to get a guy’s first start to see what you can do to get him through it,” Showalter said. “If Taylor’s back there, too, that would have been fine. The way he threw the ball, I think he would have been fine with anyone back there.”
You can expect one more blog entry from me. It seems that the Orioles are making a roster move tonight, perhaps adding a player from outside the organization. That’s the vibe here. Stay tuned.