There was no doubt that if the Orioles took a one-run lead to the ninth tonight that Jim Johnson would get the ball. You knew Buck Showalter would call on him and Johnson certainly wanted it to be that way. He wanted to be back on the mound tonight.
“I did. To come back from a bad outing, usually you want the ball right away,” Johnson said after he retired the top of the Yankees order on 12 pitches to save the O’s 3-2 victory. “You don’t want to sit on it for a day and have an off day. As a reliever you have to have a short-term memory.
“Every day is a different day. We all trust each other in here. It’s one of those team atmospheres where we all have each other’s backs. I’ve never been in a clubhouse like that before and that is what makes this year special and more fun.
“The big difference was location. Where the pitches were located last night and tonight, that is the big difference.
“It would have been nice to have a big lead, but I kind of figured that is how things work out. You have a rough one and then you’re kind of put right into the pressure cooker the next time out. A lot of it is you have to trust your stuff. It was the other guys tonight, too. Wei-Yin (Chen) battled the whole night. Darren (O’Day) continues to get us big outs. (Brian) Matusz, huge outs. It’s everybody in there.”
Johnson said it didn’t take him long to put last night’s ninth inning behind him.
“Human nature, it’s going to bug you,” Johnson said. “It should because you care. Usually about an hour after you get out of the ballpark, you clear it out of your system. You have to trust your prep work and who you are and come back the next day and execute simple stuff.
“I felt the same confidence level both days. Execution was the big issue yesterday. Today, I executed my pitches and got better results.”
Johnson got Derek Jeter on a ground out, Ichiro Suzuki on a ground out and then fanned Alex Rodriguez on a 3-2 pitch to end one of the Orioles’ biggest wins of the year, evening up this American League Division Series.
“With the magnitude of the playoffs and all, it was a big win,” Johnson said. “If you lose two here, it’s going to be tough to come back. Split the series and go to New York where we play them tough, and we’re gonna come ready to play.”