BALTIMORE -- How much faith do the Orioles have in closer Jim Johnson, who entered Saturday tied for the Major League-lead with 39 saves? Setup man Pedro Strop puts it best.
"When he's jogging to the mound," Strop said, "we are thinking that the game is over."
So are opponents. Johnson is on pace for 51 saves, which would smash the O's current single-season record (45) set by Randy Myers in 1997, and the right-hander has retired the side in order in eight of his last 10 outings. In those 10 appearances, Johnson has recorded nine saves, allowing just three runners into scoring position, with three hits and a walk against eight strikeouts.
"Last year, what I learned was how to pace yourself the entire year and how to try to stay healthy," said Johnson, who is in his first full-season as the Orioles closer. "I feel like I'm right where I need to be. We talked about in Spring Training, targeting August 15. You work toward August 15. It's kind of where you want to peak, and then you work toward getting to the finish line."
Johnson, who has always been eager to avoid the media spotlight, hasn't concnered himself much with the prospect of the Orioles' single-season saves record. The 29-year-old points out that saves are a product of a team that plays close games, and he's simply doing his job when called upon. Still, the O's have won 12 consecutive one-run games -- tying a franchise record -- and Johnson is a huge reason why Baltimore is 44-18 in games decided by two or fewer runs.
"There's a lot of weird stats out there like, when they talk about how [bad] of a team we should be according to these stats," Johnson said, referring to -- among other things -- the team's negative run differential. "Well, we don't care."