Steve Johnson: “This is what you live for”

A few minutes after he got the win here in Game 1 against Toronto, pitching five shutout innings in the Orioles 4-1 victory, Steve Johnson was asked about pitching in pennant race pressure.

“This is what you live for,” Johnson said. “Pitching in a playoff race and just wanting the team to win. Pitching in a big game. This is a lot of fun.

“It was a big win for the team. I had real good stuff, but just wasn’t able to command the ball well at least for the first couple innings. Got my pitch count up there but I was able to minimize the damage. Knew we’d put up runs at some point,” he said as he improved to 4-0 with an ERA of 1.62.

Johnson pitched out of jams three times, stranding two Blue Jays runners in the first, third and fourth innings. Toronto went 0-for-7 against him with runners in scoring position and opponent batters are now 0-for-20 against him this year with runners in scoring position.

“You’ve just got to bear down,” Johnson said. “I had a lot of work on that last year. I walked a lot of guys and pitched out of the stretch a lot. Just thankful they picked me for this start. They could have picked a couple other guys that were ready for the start. Grateful for the opportunity.”

He has now put together six straight scoreless outings, covering 17 1/3 innings for the Orioles.

All that happening after he walked the first two batters he saw today, before getting a strikeout, groundout and pop out to escape that inning.

“I did that in my first outing up here,” Johnson said. “But I was able to get out of it and that was big momentum for me.”

The kid from Baltimore was able to put up more strikeouts, today, getting six against three walks. He doesn’t throw mid 90’s, but he has now fanned 43 over 33 1/3.

“There is some deception with my fastball where some days they can’t pick up my delivery well. I’m not sure what it is or if I want to know,” Johnson said.

He is now 3-0 with an ERA of 2.12 in his three big league starts, with two of those coming against the Blue Jays.

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