BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who blew his third consecutive save in Monday night's 6-4 loss to the Yankees, was hoping to get an immediate chance for redemption. A save situation did not arise on Tuesday against New York, but manager Buck Showalter showed faith in Johnson regardless, using the righty for the 10th inning of a tied game that was won by Baltimore, 3-2, in the bottom of the 10th.
"He's not going to sugarcoat it," Johnson said of Showalter's public and private support for him. "If he felt like he needed to do something, he would do it. But we are not at that point. He trusts me, and I trust him. We use that word a lot around here, trust. We hold each other accountable, and that's just the way this works."
Johnson, who saw a stretch of 35 consecutive converted saves snapped on May 10, entered Tuesday having allowed eight earned runs over his last three games (2 1/3 innings). In the process, the All-Star closer looked nothing like the shut-down reliever who led the Majors with 51 saves last year. Or did he?
"It's never as bad as you think it is, and you are never going as good as you think you are," Johnson said. "There were times last year I pitched terribly and somehow ended up getting the save. But nobody talked about that because they don't see it. Actually, there is one person that saw it -- it was [Hall of Famer and O's broadcaster Jim] Palmer. He called me out on it, and I knew he was right. It's just the way the game works.
"I feel like being consistent in this game is having a good work ethic. I think I have a good work ethic, and the results will come."
Johnson has watched video of all three of his blown saves and has been working on making a few adjustments that he hopes will get his command back on track. And while Showalter has stuck by his closer, Orioles fans have been divided over whether the 29-year-old should continue to hold ninth-inning duties. Johnson said on Tuesday that he doesn't pay attention to that type of speculation, but he did have high praise for the home crowd.
"I think our fans are a little bit smarter than most, honestly," Johnson said. "They understand the game a little bit better than I've seen at other ballparks. They understand it's not that easy. They are fans, and they want us to win -- there's nothing wrong with that. That's part of being a fan, [and] enjoying the game."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less