Steve Johnson Saves Best For Last

Steve Johnson has been solid since coming to the Orioles as a part of the George Sherill trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Sunday he had his best start in his last outing of 2009. Inside, Johnson discusses what worked for him and why the results of this start meant a lot to him.

Steve Johnson had his best outing of his Baysox career Sunday afternoon, pitching the Baysox to a 5-2 win over Harrisburg. Despite the win and strong performance, Bowie was eliminated from the playoffs when Reading defeated Connecticut.

Johnson (3-2) went 6.2 innings, gave up just one run (earned) on five hits and hit a batter. He also struck out six Senators and walked none. It was his longest outing as an Oriole farmhand and longest since June 27 when he went 7.0 innings.

"It went well, I didn't walk anybody, which was big," Johnson said. "I had a couple pitches working for me, I threw a lot of fastballs and they hit them to where we were for the most part."

Not walking anyone was the most important thing for Johnson. It was the first time since April 21 that Johnson had not walked a batter and just the second time this season.

"That zero in the walk column has been big for me all year and I haven't done it in a while, it was big," Johnson said.

Johnson also said it was his fastball location that was key to him getting into the seventh and getting the win. Because he could spot his fastball, his secondary pitches become more effective.

"The curveball was really good today, I used that a lot more than I normally do and struck out a couple guys on it. The slider wasn't really great for me, but the fastball and curveball were big."

Johnson is the most recent starter to make the most of his last start of the 2009 summer season, following Pedro Beato, Brandon Erbe and Tim Bascom who all earned wins in their final starts.

"It felt good and it was good to end on a high note," Johnson said.

Johnson, who started out at the High-A level with Inland Empire, entered his fifth professional season hoping to advance.

"My goal this year was to get in Double-A by the end of the season and to get there and do as well as I've done... that was big for me," Johnson said. "It was something I wanted to do and to go out like this and to change organizations and how I pitched here is nice, it's a big thing for me."

Johnson had quickly become one of the better pitchers in the Bowie rotation, finishing with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts. He has been a fly-ball pitcher, getting just 0.38 groundouts to fly-ball outs, but he has also struck out 37 batters in 38.0 innings.

Despite walking 17 batters with Bowie (4.0 BB/9 IP), Johnson only gave up 24 hits. He held opponents to a .179 batting average. Lefties had no advantage, hitting .169 and righties were held to .187.

The win gave Johnson 12 on the year over three minor league teams and it is the second straight year has won 12 games.

Johnson has just finished his fifth professional season out of high school and will need to be placed on the 40-man roster before the Rule Five draft to avoid being left vulnerable to other teams.

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