BOSTON -- There is a different mentality with this year's Orioles team, and a big part of the club's confidence comes from closer Jim Johnson, who set a new club single-season saves record with his 46th in a 4-2 win over the Red Sox on Friday night.
"I think right now, publicly, you'll tell how much it means to all of us for Jim Johnson, not necessarily what it means history-wise," manager Buck Showalter said of the record, which was previously set by Randy Myers in 1997. "But when you talk about the history of the Orioles, you've got everybody's attention. That's pretty long and deep. You step back and take it in, and you'll find out how excited our players are for him, but you won't get much out of Jimmy, because Jimmy's got other goals in mind."
In his first full season as closer, Johnson has allowed one earned run over his last 21 games and had a streak of 25 consecutive converted save opportunities snapped on June 2. The 29-year-old, who leads the Majors in saves, became the second-fastest pitcher in Orioles history (95 games) to reach the 30-save mark and in May was also the first Baltimore pitcher to be named Major League Baseball's Delivery Man of the Month in the award's eight-year history.
"People ask, 'How many do you think you're going to get? What's a good season? What's a good number?' All that stuff," said Johnson, who is 46 of 49 in save opportunities. "It really kind of doesn't mean anything. We'll talk about it at the end of the year and see if it really does mean anything."
The Orioles are 52-21 in one- or two-run games this season and an astounding 66-0 when leading after seven innings. A big part of that has been Johnson, a homegrown product who was selected in the fifth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.
So what makes Johnson so good?
"One, he's smart," catcher Matt Wieters said. "He's able to use different pitchers as a closer, and on top of that, he's able to locate with a power sinker. I put his sinker up there with anybody in the game. To be able to throw 95-96 with the movement he has, it's a special pitch."
"He's a pitcher, not a thrower, with good stuff," Showalter added. "He's really good, and Jimmy's got a lot of challenges he had behind him. No where along the line did he cheat the process. When Jimmy goes out there on a given day when he's not carrying a certain pitch, he's [still] got three weapons."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.