To say that Steve Johnson has pitched well for the Orioles this year would be an understatement. He's done something even better than that. Today, he pitched the first five innings without allowing a run and wriggled out of a few jams as the Orioles beat Toronto 4-1 in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
In Game 2, Wei-Yin Chen (12-9, 3.98 ERA) pitches against lefty Ricky Romero (8-14, 5.72 ERA).
With the win, the Orioles have won seven of their last eight games and 33 of their last 47 contests. They improved to 88-65 and moved to within a 1/2 game of first-place New York, which plays at Minnesota tonight.
Johnson allowed just three hits with three walks and six strikeouts. He threw 96 pitches, 60 for strikes, as he improved to 4-0 with an ERA of 1.62. In his three starts, he is 3-0 with an ERA of 2.12.
Johnson has not allowed a run over his last six appearances, covering 17 1/3 innings. In 33 1/3 innings on the season, Johnson has fanned 43 batters.
Here is the most stunning stat of all: With Toronto going 0-for-7 today with runners in scoring position against Johnson, big league hitters are now 0-for-20 this year with RISP against the right-hander. Opponent batters are just 3-for-35 (.086) against him with runners on base.
Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth to record his 48th save and his sixth in the last eight O's games.
The Orioles have won six in a row at home vs. Toronto for the first time since May of 1981 when they won 19 in a row at home vs. the Jays.
Meanwhile, Adam Jones hit another big homer today to jumpstart the Orioles' offense. His two-run shot in the fourth off losing pitcher Henderson Alvarez made it 2-0. It was his 32nd homer and 17th that gave the O's a lead. Jones went 4-for-4 to tie his season high for hits and scored his 100th and 101st runs.
Ryan Flaherty hit his fifth homer an inning later to make it 3-0, and Mark Reynolds hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the sixth to score the O's fourth run.
With this loss, Toronto is now 66-86 overall and 0-7 on a road trip that has taken them to New York, Tampa and now Baltimore. The Blue Jays have lost nine of 11 games and are 5-10 against the Orioles.