Jim Johnson has blown saves in each of his last three appearances, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been adamant in support of the right-hander as his closer.
Not so long ago he had a streak of 35 straight saves converted, which is no doubt why Showalter is willing to stick with him through so many struggles now, and the long leash gives Johnson a chance to make a run at the all-time blown saves record.
Johnson has blown nine saves in 48 chances this season, putting him within striking distance of the record, which Ray Frager of CSNBaltimore.com notes is 14 shared by Rollie Fingers in 1976, Bruce Sutter in 1978, Bob Stanley in 1983, and Ron Davis in 1984.
It’s also worth noting that Johnson leads the league with 39 saves, so he’s simply had a ton of save opportunities, and with a 3.52 ERA, 41/17 K/BB ratio, and four homers allowed in 54 innings his overall numbers remain very respectable despite the nine leads coughed up and seven losses taken.
Stephen Strasburg‘s bat was on fire Thursday night in Atlanta. He hit a three-run home run off of Touki Toussaint to cap off an eight-run third inning, then added a two-run single off of Toussaint in the fifth.
The last time a pitcher knocked in at least five runs was on April 11, 2014 when Madison Bumgarner homered and drove in five runs at home against the Rockies. Strasburg is just the seventh pitcher since 2000 to knock in five runs in one game. The others, along with Strasburg and Bumgarner:
- Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) vs. Reds, October 1, 2009 (HR, 6 RBI)
- Jason Marquis (Cubs) vs. Mets, September 22, 2008 (HR, 5 RBI)
- Micah Owings (Diamondbacks) vs. Braves, August 18, 2007 (2 HR, 6 RBI)
- Robert Person (Phillies) vs. Expos, June 2, 2002 (HR, 7 RBI)
- Shawn Estes (Giants) vs. Expos, May 24, 2000 (HR, 5 RBI)
Strasburg is 3-for-3 overall as he also singled to lead off the third. Tonight’s homer marked the fourth of his career and he’s now up to 25 RBI.
Strasburg is performing well on the mound as well. At the time of this writing, he has held the Braves to a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over four innings as the Nationals lead 10-1.