Exactly 23 years after his father, former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, won his first major league game, Steve Johnson shut down the Seattle Mariners to pick up his first ML win. Battery mate Matt Wieters led the O’s offensive attack, which featured nine runs on 14 hits, six of which went for extra bases.
Buck Showalter had planned to rest his All-Star catcher after he spent all 14 innings crouching behind the plate Tuesday night. But Wieters talked his manager into letting him catch Johnson in his first big league start. All parties are happy with the results.
Johnson (W, 1-0_ began the night fanning the Mariners’ first two hitters, Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders, on six pitches. Johnson went 0-2 on Jesus Montero before he singled to right. The next batter, John Jaso, struck out on three pitches, and Johnson had his club back in the dugout.
Former Oriole Kevin Millwood (L, 4-10), who 23 years ago was getting ready to begin his freshman year in high school, took the hill for the Mariners, and was greeted rudely by his old mates. JJ Hardy picked up a one-out single, and Chris Davis walked. Adam Jones hit into a force out, putting runners on first and third with two away, for Wieters.
Wieters worked the count full, then picked on an 83 MPH slider from Millwood and ripped it to right. Right fielder Eric Thames took a bad route to the ball, but still appeared to have it in range. In mid-stride, he reached up over his head, but the ball trickled out of the webbing of his glove. The birds picked up two runs on the shot, which was ruled a double for Wieters, but which definitely should have been caught.
The second inning provided the most angst for Johnson. With his team having just handed him two runs, Johnson gave up a leadoff hit to Kyle Seager, then walked Mike Carp. Trayvon Robinson hit into a force, putting runners on the corners with one out. Thames took Johnson to a 3-2 count before walking to load the bases. Next up, shortstop Munenori Kawasaki tried to bunt his way on, or at least bunt home a run. Johnson fielded it and flipped to Wieters for the force at the plate, and there were two outs. Ackley then went after Johnson’s first pitch, a 79-MPH changeup, and popped out, and Johnson had stranded three runners.
Nick Markakis led off the O’s third with a triple. He scored when Hardy scooted a ground ball under Seager’s glove at third for a base hit. One out later, Jones doubled to left, moving Hardy to third. Wieters made a productive out, grounding to second and plating the Orioles’ fourth run.
Into the home half of the fourth, and Mark Reynolds took a belt-high, 90 MPH Millwood fastball into the seats in right center for a one-out, solo homer (9). Omar Quintanilla singled. Then Markakis pounded a Millwood slider onto the flag court in right for another home run (12), and a 7-0 Orioles lead.
The M’s finally got to Johnson in the sixth. Montero singled leading off, and one-out later, Seager hit an opposite field homer to left (13), and it was 7-2 Baltimore. Johnson would get the final two outs in the sixth, and that would end his night. A very solid first big league start (and second ML appearance) finished with 6IP, 2ER, 5H, 2BB, 9K, 1HR. Oh, and 1W.
Troy Patton pitched a perfect seventh, with one strikeout, and Miguel Socolovich, recalled before the game, threw two shutout innings to close the door on Seattle.
The birds would pick up two more runs in the seventh on a Davis single, back-to-back-to-back doubles from Jones, Wieters (for 2 more RBIs), and Betemit, and an intentional walk to Nate McClouth.
The O’s have won five straight after sweeping the Mariners, and next welcome Kansas City. Wei-Yin Chen (10-6, 3.46) goes for the O’s, vs. KC’s Will Smith (2-4, 6.00). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
- Matt Wieters with 5 RBIs.
- Every Oriole starter got on base. All but McClouth picked up at least one hit.
- Well, just when the dust settles from Johnson’s first ML win and a sweep of the Mariners, up to the Bigs comes Manny Machado. Yes, it is a surprise. There is no official word what the plan is for Machado right now, but it’s hard to think that he’ll uproot JJ Hardy from shortstop here in a pennant race. Of course, it’s hard to think of Machado being thrown out to third base, where he’s played exactly twice in his minor league career. And Machado being called up and NOT playing is simply impossible to imagine. Just like the rest of the 2012 Orioles season.
- Normally, eight runners left on would strike a chord. But the O’s still scored nine runs, so all is good.