When Jim Johnson took the mound Sunday in Toronto, he was trying to protect a three-run lead, but he couldn’t do it, giving up four runs as the Orioles lost 6-5. In his first game since that outing at Camden Yards last night, he got the Nationals out 1-2-3 in the ninth and he came in to protect another three-run lead.
This time he got a line out and two strikeouts on 11 pitches, throwing nine strikes to get his 16th save.
Even after going 1-for-5 in his previous five save chances and with an ERA of 21.60 over a six-game stretch, he entered to a nice ovation from the O’s fans at the Yard.
“They have always been supportive,” Johnson said. “Even the fans that we had in Toronto and in Washington. Every place we go.”
So was this outing a much better one for him?
“I guess,” he said. “I am just trying to always make the adjustments that I have to. I’ll continue to do that and trust that what I am doing is the right thing.”
In that Toronto game he didn’t have a good curveball. Were his secondary pitches better this time?
“They were a little bit better last night. I threw three offspeed pitches and two were good. But you know, at this level it’s usually more about location than anything else.
“I look at everything (in sizing up my own performance). You have to take the good with the bad. You watch the video and you take what you can take out of it. You can overanalyze things, but there are keys in my delivery and in being successful and I’ll continue to focus on those.
“It is not just one thing. It’s a combination of a lot of things. Rick (Adair) and I have been working a lot plus Billy (Castro, bullpen coach) and lot of other guys. We are all trying to help each other out.”
Strong support for Johnson in the clubhouse never wavered or from the dugout. We won’t know if he is past his recent struggles until he gets on the mound a few more times, but Chris Davis said he was quite encouraged by Johnson’s pitching last night.
“I think it’s huge, just for peace of mind for him,” Davis said. “We know Jimmy’s going to be there. We know who he is and what he is capable of. He was getting ahead of guys, being aggressive in the strike zone and getting swings and misses. That is what he does best.”
What do you think? Are Johnson’s struggles a thing of the past?