Moments after Nate McLouth hit a dramatic two-run homer to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead in the last of the eighth yesterday, there he was on the mound again. Again, trying to protect the slimmest of leads and again doing it beautifully.
There were a lot of heroes in another dramatic O's win last night, but at the end, there was Johnson again, getting the final three outs with very little drama.
The Orioles have an amazing 24-6 record in one-run games, and Johnson has been a key to that.
Since he gave up six runs on July 27 against Oakland, Johnson has put together 11 straight scoreless outings. In August, he is 9-for-9 in saves with a batting average against of .091.
Last night, Johnson became the second player in the history of the Orioles to record 40 saves. Randy Myers recorded 45 in 1997, and now Johnson is on a 51-save pace that would shatter Myers' club record.
McLouth became the latest unlikely Orioles hero last night, but it stayed that way because Johnson nailed down those final three outs. He's just become old faithful. He's become so good that we've come to expect him to do it and almost take his exploits for granted.
On the year, Johnson is 1-1 with an ERA of 2.96. Opponent batters are hitting just .210 against him, and his ground-to-air out ratio is 2.32. Lefty batters are hitting just .212 vs. him, and right-handed batters hit only .207.
He's steady, dependable, consistent and just plain good. He's having one of the best years by any Orioles closer ever and is having one of the best years by any closer in the majors in 2012.
Had he blown the save and the game last night, Johnson's name would be in the headlines for the wrong reason. But he did his job well - yet again - and McLouth gets to be the hero.
Another one-run lead, another save for Johnson. Business as usual for the Orioles closer.
Jason Siemer said it and sang it best: For the younger fans out there, nights like last night were once commonplace, it seemed, in Orioles history where there were pennant races almost every year and the O's made their fans proud always. Click here to remember the history.