Jim Johnson on his return to Camden Yards

I’m not certain whether I’m setting up a reverse jinx here, but Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season. He’s never homered in three straight.

Last night, Chris Tillman became the first Orioles pitcher to make two starts lasting one inning or fewer in the same season since Zach Britton on July 8 and July 30, 2011. Bob Turley and Joe Coleman each made four such starts during the 1954 season, the most in club history.

Due to the expected large turnout for the Manny Machado Platinum Glove bobblehead on Saturday, all gates at Camden Yards will open at 5 p.m. for the scheduled 7:15 p.m. game on FOX. The first 25,000 fans 15 and older will receive the bobblehead.

There’s something jarring about seeing former Orioles closer Jim Johnson up close, wearing the green and gold colors of the Athletics.

Johnson, who saved 101 games for the Orioles over the past two seasons, met with reporters in the visiting dugout before heading to the field for the pregame stretch. This is his first appearance at Camden Yards since the Orioles traded him to the A’s on Dec. 2 for infielder Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later, who turned into catcher David Freitas.

Johnson is 3-2 with a 6.26 ERA and two saves in 23 games, with 31 hits, 13 walks, 16 strikeouts and two hit batters in 23 innings. He lost the closer’s job and has been booed at home, where he’s posted a 14.04 ERA in 8 1/3 innings, compared to his 1.84 ERA and all three wins in 14 2/3 innings on the road.

Opponents are batting .212 against Johnson on the road and .465 in Oakland.

Johnson has allowed nine runs over his last 10 appearances, spanning 9 1/3 innings after an eight-game, 10 1/3-inning scoreless streak.

Here’s a sampling of his interview:

On what it’s like to be back here
“It’s a little different. I mean, a lot of memories. iIt’s obviously different going into a different clubhouse. It’s cool. We’ll see how the game goes.”

On visiting with ex-teammates
“I saw a couple guys. I know they got in late. It’s just a general, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ kind of stuff. Nothing too earth-shattering.”

On what he most remembers about his time here
“I think the time that Buck (Showalter) came here and just the whole culture shift of the ballclub. And being part of that was probably the most memorable time. And changing the team into a competitive team every year. And obviously getting into the playoffs and ending that playoff drought was pretty fun, too.”

On how long it took to get over the shock of the trade
“Once you get to spring training, you kind of get over it pretty quick because it’s all spring training. And then the monotony of spring training takes over.”

On whether joining a contender eased the transition
“When you get into spring training, you spend all that time anyway with the guys and it’s the same. You have a new team every year when you start, so that was no big deal.”

On how tough the season’s been for him
“It’s been frustrating, but I still have a positive attitude every day coming to the ballpark, trying to help the team win any way I can.”

On not being the closer
“I always want to help the team win. It doesn’t matter. I think you all asked me that many times over the years. It’s always about the team and it’s still about the team.”

On how fans will react to him here
“I don’t know. Depends on the game, right? If we’re winning or losing, right? I’m sure that the fans here will be supportive and I wouldn’t expect anything (less). They’re great fans and there’s mutual respect. Should be fine.”

On his early struggles
“I feel like my early struggles were mainly because I wasn’t throwing enough strikes. I was walking guys. From that point on, it’s been a little bit of bad luck. Like I said, I’m coming to the ballpark every day, ready to work and help the team win and a positive attitude.”

On whether he put too much pressure on himself
“I don’t think I put too much. I think I probably put some on myself, but that probably faded away pretty quick. I think it’s a natural instinct to feel like you need to help your team and justify yourself, but there’s really no need for that. It’s hard not to do that because I think it’s a natural instinct anyway.”

On his stats
“You guys tell me my stats. I honestly don’t know them. I’ve never been one for stats. When I’m on the field, all I do is try and get outs. That’s all that really matters.”

On whether he pays attention to the Orioles
“East and West Coast. Usually, their game is getting over when we’re getting ready to start, so it seems like every time they’re on TV, we’re warming up. I see a little bit, but nothing too crazy.”

On whether he’s angry with the Orioles
“No.”

For the Athletics
Craig Gentry CF
Jed Lowrie SS
Josh Donaldson 3B
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Derek Norris C
Brandon Moss RF
Alberto Callaspo DH
Kyle Blanks 1B
Nick Punto 2B

Tommy Milone LHP

blog comments powered by Disqus