After he suffered back-to-back blown saves and took the loss today against Tampa Bay, Jim Johnson said all the innings that the bullpen is having to pitch lately is not a factor in his form being off the last two outings.
“No, that is not an excuse at all,” Johnson said. “If you look at the way Buck sets the bullpen up and how he manages the game, not just for that day or the series. He puts guys in the right situations. With the way we used the pen yesterday, we were fine today.
“We were strong enough to finish out that game. I just blew it. I just (stunk) tonight, so you know, we come back here tomorrow. We are used to this, grinding it out, nothing is easy. Just all of us need to do better, myself included.”
Johnson gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in the ninth, and he has allowed seven runs on seven hits over 1 1/3 his last two games after a streak of converting 35 straight saves, a team record.
He said there was nothing similar for him about both of those games.
“No, they are actually totally different,” he said. “Different feel and different mistakes made. They are not related at all except they came on back-to-back appearances.
“Not getting strike one is a good place to start. Pitching behind and just not throwing quality pitches. So, it kind of was a snowball effect and didn’t obviously make the pitches I needed to. Just one of those days where it didn’t work.”
Was his location off today?
“Like I said, not getting that first-pitch strike,” he said. “You get the first pitch, that changes the whole at bat. There were some pitches I just didn’t execute.”
Will there be anything specific Johnson feels he needs to work on before his next save chance?
“You always want to get right back out,” he said. “You don’t want to sit on it. If I don’t get in there tomorrow, I’ll be doing work on the side like I normally do. I’ll talk to who I need to talk to, and we’ll evaluate. Somebody might see something I don’t, so that’s fine.”
Meanwhile, in his first O’s start today, Jair Jurrjens was in line for the win before Tampa’s rally in the ninth. He went five innings and gave up six hits and four runs, throwing 75 pitches.
“I didn’t achieve the innings I wanted to achieve today,” he said. “I feel like the ball was coming out pretty good, just one bad inning, and I gave up three. I was not tired at all, I felt fine.
“In the third inning, I started losing grip on the ball and the ball start slipping and I started falling behind and leaving the ball up. I made a couple of mistakes and got hurt by them.”
All six hits he gave up were extra-base hits with five doubles and a homer. The six extra-base hits allowed are the second most for an Oriole in his debut. John O’Donoghue allowed seven on June 27, 1993 against the Yankees.
Jurrjens was asked what he needs to improve before his next start.
“Just going deeper. Try to get a feeling back for my slider. Hard to pitch only with two pitches against a lineup like this. I need to go work on repeating my delivery and work on slider command,” he said.