It had gotten so bad that it even seemed Manager Buck Showalter was willing to experiment a little bit in the ninth inning, but despite his struggles, Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson has rebounded nicely and has been big for the O's down the stretch.
Yes, it got terribly bad for Johnson, he has blown nine saves and recorded eight losses this season, but he has been much better of late and his resurgence could not have come at a better time for the Orioles.
Do not get us wrong, the Orioles may not even be in this tight spot in regards to their playoff chances if not for Johnson's barrage of blown saves, but they are and he is vital to their effort to make their second consecutive playoff appearance.
Over his last 11 games, Johnson has not allowed a single earned run (1 unearned), while allowing nine hits, two walks (one intentional), and striking out nine over 11 innings of work. He has picked up eight saves over that stretch as well and posted a WHIP of 0.818, which is phenomenal.
His 0.818 WHIP is down from his season WHIP of 1.281 and both his strikeout per nine innings (7.4) and strikeout to walk ratio (9.0) have improved over his season numbers of 6.9 and 2.83 respectably.
The only hiccup he has had over his last 11 games was his only loss over the stretch when he entered in the top of the ninth in a tie game against the New York Yankees and ended up throwing a wild pitch to allow the go ahead run to score. Making it even worse was the fact that Baltimore had just tied the game with a three run eighth inning.
Johnson is going to be absolutely crucial for the Orioles over their final 11 games as every game is essentially a must win with a playoff atmosphere. Of course, when it comes to September and a playoff chase, every game just seems to be a close one and the Orioles have gone through just that as 18 of their last 24 games have been decided by two or fewer runs.
Perhaps just when the Orioles 2012 magic has seemed to return, so too has the 2012 version of their closer Jim Johnson.
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