Orioles closer Jim Johnson got a warm welcome from Baltimore crowd Wednesday
By By Daniel Gallen
The Baltimore Sun|
May 30, 2013 | 6:09 PM
The last time Orioles closer Jim Johnson had walked off the mound, it was after his fourth blown save in five opportunities Sunday, when was unable to preserve a three-run ninth-inning lead in a 6-5 walk-off loss to Toronto at Rogers Centre.
But when Johnson took the mound in the ninth inning Wednesday night, he was greeted by a chorus of cheers and a loud ovation from the Camden Yards crowd.
Minutes later, the right-hander shut the door on a 9-6 victory over the Washington Nationals with a quick, 11-pitch inning that ended with a three-pitch strikeout of second baseman Danny Espinosa for his 16th save of the season.
Despite his recent struggles, Johnson feels he's working his way back to the form that previously led him to a team-record 35 straight converted save opportunities.
"I feel better," Johnson said Thursday. "I'm always trying to improve and I'll continue to do that."
Johnson got Washington third baseman Chad Tracy to line out to first base on the second pitch of his at-bat in Wednesday's ninth inning, and he and struck out catcher Kurt Suzuki on six pitches before setting down Espinosa on a changeup.