Steve Johnson threw 12 pitches in the top of the first inning tonight, all of them for strikes. He struck out the first two Mariners, gave up a soft single on an 0-2 pitch and struck out the cleanup hitter.
Who is the last Orioles pitcher to strike out the side in the first inning in his first major league start?
Get Elias on the phone.
Johnson disposed of Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders on six pitches. Jesus Montero looped a single into right field, just in front of a charging Nick Markakis, and John Jaso went down swinging on three pitches.
Johnson’s fastball was clocked at 88-93 mph. He also threw two 69 mph curveballs and an 81 mph slider that Montero poked into right field.
There’s a modest gathering here tonight at Camden Yards, but the fans who bothered to show up gave Johnson a nice ovation after each strikeout.
“Steve never cheated the process,” said manager Buck Showalter. “Statistically, he’s having as good a year as anybody in Triple-A for us. He deserves this opportunity and I’m glad he’s getting it.
“Obviously, we all think he’s a good young man, a professional, and you like having those type of people, but it’s about pitching. He earned this pitching-wise. He was our best option to pitch tonight and that’s why he’s here. That’s why he’s on the (40-man) roster to start with. That’s why we put him on there. We didn’t want to lose him. This has nothing to do with anything else other than that.”
Update: The Orioles gave Johnson a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Matt Wieters’s two-out, two-run double off Kevin Millwood.
Wieters had a double and two home runs last night.
Millwood, the former Oriole, threw 37 pitches in the inning.
Mariners right fielder Eric Thames almost caught Wieters’ ball, but it popped out of his glove as he made a leaping attempt.
J.J. Hardy started the rally with a one-out single and Chris Davis followed with a walk.
Update II: Wieters has driven in three of the Orioles’ four runs in three innings. His ground ball in the third inning scored J.J. Hardy.
Nick Markakis led off with a triple and scored on Hardy’s single. Adam Jones doubled with one out before Wieters stepped to the plate.
Johnson has blanked the Mariners on three hits in four innings, with two walks and six strikeouts. He’s fanned three of the last four batters.
Update III: Mark Reynolds hit his first home run since July 16 to increase the lead to 5-0 in the fourth.
I’m not sure that Johnson got this much run support at Norfolk.
Down on the farm, Single-A Frederick’s Dylan Bundy has allowed four runs and six hits in four innings against Lynchburg, with no walks, six strikeouts and one home run.
Update IV: Markakis continues to thrive as the leadoff hitter. He just belted a two-run homer to right field in the fourth, his 12th this season, to give the Orioles a 7-0 lead.
Update V: Kyle Seager hit an opposite-field, two-run homer off Johnson in the sixth to break up the shutout bid. Troy Patton has entered the game in the seventh.
Johnson allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, with two walks and nine strikeouts. He’s in line to win his first major league game exactly 23 years after his father did it.
Dave Johnson’s career high was seven strikeouts. I wonder if that subject will come up later.
Tonight’s attendance: 17,312
Bundy allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts. Brandon Erbe replaced him.