Game update and quotes from Steve Johnson (O’s win 7-1)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving him two more hits on the spring, and Lew Ford drove in two runs with a single in the sixth.

Orioles 7, Twins 0.

Two of the club’s hottest hitters have stepped up again today. Wieters is 12-for-24 with three homers and 12 RBIs. Ford is 14-for-29.

Jim Johnson and Darren O’Day have each thrown a scoreless inning today. Johnson walked a batter. O’Day gave up an infield hit.

Jair Jurrjens has entered the game in the seventh.

Steve Johnson was satisfied that he blanked the Minnesota Twins over four innings, but he didn’t pound the strike zone to his satisfaction.

“I was behind a lot of hitters, but I battled back,” he said. “The slider was really good, helping me get back in some counts. I wish I could have gotten ahead of a lot more batters, but I feel like I put up zeros and got out of a couple jams. I did my job.

“This is the kind of game where I was effectively wild here and there. Got behind a lot of batters, and at the end of the day, if this was a start where I put up zeros and wasn’t that great, you would take it and run with it. But I’m working on things and you want to look good, you want to be crisp, and I feel like I got the job done in putting up zeros, but I could have been a little bit more efficient and more crisp than how I did it.”

Johnson changed the grip on his slider over the winter, and it’s becoming an effective pitch for him.

“I needed to find something more consistent,” he said. “I was sharper and I was able to find one and it’s been getting better and better each time out, and today it was really good. It helped me a lot. I think my velo was around 80-82, which is harder than it was last year. Just more consistent, something I can throw for a strike, and possibly a strikeout or just an out pitch for me. It wasn’t that way for me last year, and right now it’s looking pretty good.”

Johnson’s chances of making the rotation weren’t hurt by today’s outing. The competition continues, and it’s really heating up.

“It’s a great competition,” he said. “Everyone’s done pretty well the last time out, so it’s definitely a heated battle, but it’s a lot of fun going out there and competing. You’re not only competing against the other team, but you’re competing against the other five, six, seven guys or however many we have going after the spot. So, it’s a lot of fun and it’s just an honor to be in the running.”

The candidates seem to be pushing each other.

“You saw it at the end of last year, how every start out there someone had to get the job done or they were going to find someone else to do it for the next time around,” Johnson said. “Every time out was like, to be announced, and I think that puts a little pressure on you and kind of makes you perform a little better. It’s a lot of fun going out there with so much on the line. Its definitely good to get those zeroes.

“It’s a weird situation, to be honest with you, because you’re friends with the guys and you want everyone to do well. You don’t want anyone to go out there and put up an eight-spot, even if it may help you. It’s a weird situation because you want everyone to go out there and have a good outing. When they come in, you say, ‘Way to deal.’ You’re rooting for everybody and doing what you can control and then putting it into the coaches hands. I can’t affect Jake’s outing or Britton’s or Jurrjens’. I’m going out there and doing what I can do, and Buck (Showalter) and Dan (Duquette) will decide.”

Jurrjens just cruised through the top of the seventh inning, throwing five of his six pitches for strikes and getting a fly ball and two soft grounders.

Update: Jurrjens retired the first eight batters he faced before Brandon Boggs homered with two outs in the ninth to break up the shutout.

Jurrjens got the final out, and the Orioles defeated the Twins, 7-1.

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