You knew it was bound to happen sometime. Jim Johnson wasn’t going to be perfect forever. After successfully converting 35 consecutive opportunities, the Orioles closer blew a save for the first time since July 2012.
I suppose I should take some of the blame for jinxing Johnson when I boldly proclaimed he was the game’s best closer just a week ago. My bad.
So what went wrong for JJ? After the game he blamed his pitch location for the two earned runs he allowed. Things just didn’t look right from the get go, as Yonder Alonso and Mark Kotsay each singled on the first two pitches of Johnson’s outing.
I went back and watched all thirteen pitches of Johnson’s outing and he seemed to struggle to hit Matt Wieters‘ target behind home plate. He didn’t necessarily make bad pitches to Chris Denorfia and Everth Cabrera, they just hit belt high fastballs after Johnson was already in a jam.
Here’s a GIF of Kotsay’s single against Johnson, which illustrates his location struggle.
The pink dot shows where Wieters sets up, the green dot is where Kotsay made contact with the ball.
The simple answer to that “what went wrong” question is that Johnson had a difficult time staying down in the zone and locating his fastball. There’s no reason for concern, he’s shown incredible control during the streak and I expect to see him bounce back during his next save opportunity.