K-Rod on his improved pitching and Jim Johnson

Since getting off to a rocky start with his new team, veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez has been pitching well for the Orioles. They acquired him in a deal with Milwaukee for minor leaguer Nicky Delmonico on July 23.

He gave up four homers in four innings over his first four games. Since then, he has allowed one earned run over his last 7 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts. He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning last night to get his second Orioles win.

“Trying to be more aggressive and trying to locate my pitches earlier in the count,” he said of his recent run of good pitching.

If there is one player in the O’s clubhouse who can relate to the ups and downs a closer like Jim Johnson has gone through this season, it is the pitcher they call K-Rod.

Rodriguez has recorded double-digit saves in nine of the last 10 seasons, including a major league record 62 in 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels. His 304 career saves are third-most among active players and 21st-most all-time.

He was asked about Johnson getting the save and looking very strong last night after three straight blown saves.

“Everybody goes through it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a long season. It is how you bounce back after those. He seemed to be back on track. Hopefully we can get the same guy we did last night for the rest of the year because we are going to need him to accomplish what we want to accomplish.

“You don’t want to change too much. He knows what it takes to get it done. He’s not a rookie and he’s been doing this for two years. We feel confident he’ll get the job done.”

Rodriguez feels he is currently pitching in a strong O’s bullpen. He looks around and sees about as much talent as any ‘pen he’s worked with in his career.

“I had the opportunity to play in Anaheim with a good bullpen, but not as deep as this one here,” he said. “We have three lefties to four right-handers. We have everything. Hard thrower like Tommy (Hunter), a sidewinder like (Darren) O’Day. It creates good balance and helps us match up better.”

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