Thought of the day

Jim Johnson hadn’t pitched in three days, and the Orioles’ lead was only four runs, so it was a no-brainer for him to work the ninth inning of yesterday’s 4-0 win over the Jays.

But closers many times aren’t as sharp pitching in non-save situations, which is why it was encouraging to watch Johnson mow through the inning 1-2-3.

Johnson hadn’t pitched in a non-save situation since Aug. 4, and that was also a 1-2-3 ninth in a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay.

With these games down the stretch meaning so much, the Orioles might put more 4- or 5-run games in Johnson’s hands. It’s hard to explain exactly why a closer would struggle when he has a bigger lead – the obvious suggestion is that he lets up a little bit – but Johnson hasn’t shown a hint of that.

And, since his last blown save against Oakland on July 27, he’s allowed no runs and just five hits in 12 2/3 innings of work.

Just what you want to see from a closer at this time of year.

Inside the enemy clubhouses

Alex Rodriguez was giddy about returning to the Yankees lineup vs. the Rays on Monday

A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson has been swinging a hot bat – but it’s not his bat

Torii Hunter will be a key figure in the Angels’ playoff push, LA Times columnist Bill Dwyer writes

Rays shut down right-hander Jeff Niemann indefinitely


Poll question