After he pitched a 1-2-3 10th inning tonight and then became the winning pitcher on Nate McLouth’s walk-off homer leading off the 10th, Jim Johnson was ready to talk more about other players than his one-inning outing.
“There are a lot of good things to talk about than a guy that pitched in the 10th inning tonight,” Johnson said after the O’s 3-2 win over the Yankees. “Look at the guys that pitched before me. (Miguel Gonzalez) pitched a heck of a game, Tommy (Hunter) did what he did, Chris Dickerson had a huge game and Nate walks it off. Plus some great defense at second base, that was a clinic.”
Johnson’s clean inning tonight followed a stretch of three straight blown saves where he had allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings.
“It’s been tough, but when I go home at night, it stays here,” he said. “Then I come to the field and try to work. I’ll continue to do that.”
He had the backing of manager Buck Showalter, who supported him in his public comments and then gave him the ball in a tie game tonight.
“Yeah, Buck he puts trust in his players and has the term of being a player’s manager. If he gives you the opportunity to do something, you should do it,” Johnson said.
McLouth’s walk-off homer was the second of his career and ended the Orioles’ six-game losing streak and seven-game home losing streak.
“It was big,” McLouth said. “Those kind of things can kind of build on themselves and gain momentum, so it was nice to snap that and it started with Miguel and he pitched great. It’s good we don’t have to hear the same questions tomorrow, that is for sure.
“I’m glad the fans were upset, because they care. But we can’t let the previous day, two or three or six, affect what we do tonight. This is a very good team at doing that.
“It was important to put that streak behind us. Walk-offs are always exciting. Nice to see Miguel pitch well after an extended layoff.”
McLouth hit a 1-1 pitch from New York lefty Vidal Nuno for the game winner.
“I had never faced him before and was just kind of trying to see the ball out over the plate. It was a breaking ball pretty much right down the middle,” he said.
In his first start since May 3, Gonzalez went seven innings tonight and gave up just five hits and two runs. He had been on the disabled list with a right thumb blister.
“The thumb was fine. Didn’t have a problem with it and I was confident with all my pitches,” Gonzalez said. “It was fun to be out there again and help my team win a game. Guys made some great plays out there.
“I think having that rest helped me out a little bit. Last year, they pushed me back a couple of times. Working with Rick Adair in the bullpen in between starts helped me out pretty good.”
This was Gonzalez’s fifth career start against the Yankees, counting one in last year’s playoffs and he has an ERA of 2.41 in those games.
“I don’t know, sometimes you feel comfortable with one team. It’s just a matter of being confident and doing what you do best,” Gonzalez said.