Johnson passed Randy Myers on the franchise’s all-time list tonight with his 46th save. Then he passed on every opportunity to gloat or celebrate it, remaining his usual low-key self.
“It means we’re winning games, that we’re having a good season, so that’s pretty much all it means right now,” he said.
“People ask how many do you think you’re going to get, what’s a good season, what’s a good number? All that stuff. It really kind of doesn’t mean anything. We’ll talk about it at the end of the year and see if it really does mean anything.
“It’s nice when you come to the ballpark in general and every game means something. You can feel it amongst the guys in the clubhouse and around the crowds we play in. We’re even seeing for the first time Baltimore fans in Boston. I’ve never seen that before. It’s pretty cool seeing how things are changing. It’s a good time. We’re enjoying the ride, but we’re not satisfied.”
The Orioles keep winning the close games and they keep winning on the road. They’ve taken eight of the last nine games at Fenway Park.
“We’re just grinders, a bunch of guys who just battle,” he said. “You know you have to go into enemy territory to try to steal some wins. They talk about how you have to win the series at home and protect on the road, but I feel like we go into every series expecting us to win. It’s just that mindset we’ve had since the beginning of the year and we’ve carried it the whole way through.”
This is Johnson’s first full season as a closer, and he’s making the most of it. He’s the favorite to be named Most Valuable Oriole, with Adam Jones most likely providing the stiffest competition. Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy also figure to receive votes.
“From the get-go, I just kind of fell into it and I didn’t look back,” Johnson said. “I think just being shortsighted and, I know the clichÃ© you guys hate to talk about is one game at a time, but that’s it. You don’t want to look too far ahead and get caught up with this and that. Just kind of going with the flow of things and staying even the whole way through.”
Manager Buck Showalter spoke glowingly of Johnson after the game.
“He’s a pitcher, not a thrower, with good stuff,” Showalter said. “He’s really good. And Jimmy’s got a lot of challenges he had behind him. Nowhere along the line did he cheat the process. When Jimmy goes out there on a given day when he’s not carrying a certain pitch, he’s got three weapons. And when he’s feeling really good like he was early in the season, not that he’s feeling bad now, he could go out there and pitch with his fastball. But if he and Matt see somebody speeding up, he’ll slow them down with a couple other pitches. He’s got weapons and he’s not going to just go there and be a thrower. Jimmy’s a pitcher who’s a closer.”
As for the record, Showalter said, “I think right now, publicly, you’ll tell how much it means to all of us for Jim Johnson, not necessarily what it means history-wise. But when you talk about the history of the Orioles, you’ve got everybody’s attention. That’s pretty long and deep. You step back and take it in, and you’ll find out how excited our players are for him. But you won’t get much out of Jimmy because Jimmy’s got other goals in mind.”
How many of you are thinking of the Jimmy character on Seinfield? I thought so.