The Orioles won their 69th game tonight, beating Toronto 8-2 to match their 2011 win total. But the players certainly didn’t seem impressed by that and J.J. Hardy said the Orioles have other goals in mind now.
“I think we are all playing for something a little more than that now. I don’t think it really means much to us at all really. We definitely have a bigger picture in mind,” Hardy said.
“We definitely are going into every single ballgame thinking we’re going to win and that is the attitude we need to have.”
Hardy went 3-for-5 tonight with a single, double and two-run homer. He is 11-for-31 (.355) over his last eight games with four doubles, a homer and five RBIs. Is his bat heating up now?
“It is such a small sample,” he said. “If you are looking at the last 15 at-bats versus the last 150, it is such a small sample. But anytime I can get key hits to help the team win, it feels good.”
Matt Wieters threw out three Blue Jays trying to steal tonight, one short of the club record set by Rick Dempsey in 1977. This is the 14th time - and first since Mickey Tettleton did it on Aug. 10, 1988 - that an O’s catcher got three in one game.
“Catching and throwing is no different than hitting,” Wieters said. “There are times that you feel good. Steve (Johnson) did a great job of getting good times to the plate and you just try to make a good throw. You’ll take them all, but (getting Rajai) Davis, that might be the first time I’ve caught him stealing, so that felt pretty good.”
As for Johnson, he got his second Orioles start and win tonight, giving up just two runs over six innings. He really settled down after giving up a two-run homer in the first.
“I was pretty out of sync in the first inning, leaving a lot of pitches up and I was pretty lucky to get away with giving up only two runs,” Johnson said. “I was able to make an adjustment and get the ball down and make a lot of good pitches when I needed to. I usually lock in a little better as the game goes on.”
Johnson has fanned 16 in 12 innings over his two starts and now has 23 strikeouts in 17 big league innings.
“I can’t really explain it, I never really have. I just try and get ahead of guys and let it rip sometimes,” he said. “I think I have a little bit of a deceptive fastball and I try to guage how deceptive it is certain days and lately it’s been pretty good.”
Having a catcher throw out three would-be base stealers didn’t hurt his cause.
“That saved me a ton of pitches. Just give him time, be quick to the plate and he’ll do his job,” Johnson said. “It could have been a whole different ballgame if he doesn’t do that. He’s one of the best.”
The right-hander is now 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in five big league appearances, taking advantage of his chance and helping the Orioles in their playoff push.
“It means a lot (getting this chance),” Johnson said. “I’m very fortuate to be a part of this team. I’ve worked hard and this team has worked hard this season. We just believe we can win every day. It’s nice to be a part of it.”