The Baltimore native and son of a former Oriole stormed onto the big-league stage and won all four of his decisions, providing a huge boost during a pennant push.
His 2013 hasn’t been as smooth; it was delayed for weeks by a lat injury and, when he returned to the big leagues Saturday, he lasted just four innings in the Orioles’ 8-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
In his four starts with the Orioles last season, Johnson went at least five innings, never walked more than three and allowed a combined seven earned runs. Saturday, he gave up six earned runs on seven hits and four walks (one intentional) while striking out three.
The Orioles (22-15) and Twins (17-16) will face off Sunday in the rubber match of the series — which also serves as the season finale between the two clubs.
Before Johnson ran into trouble in the third inning, the Orioles looked like they were on their way to another series victory.
They quickly jumped on Twins’ right-hander Vance Worley in the first. Manny Machado started a three-run rally with a one-out double, one of his three hits on the evening. The 20-year-old third baseman now has had multiple hits in 11 of the past 18 games.
Machado scored on an RBI single by Nick Markakis, who scored on a single by Chris Davis. The third run of the first came home on a sacrifice fly by catcher Matt Wieters. The Orioles might have had more but Davis was thrown out trying to move up to second.
Staked to a 3-0 lead, Johnson did something he had never previously done in his brief big league career: Allowed a hit with runners in scoring position.
In the third, Joe Mauer doubled home Eduardo Escobar from second base. It was Mauer’s 600th RBI of his career.
Johnson gave up another hit with Mauer on second — an RBI single to Justin Morneau to make it 3-2.
The Orioles struck back on Wieters’ fifth homer of the season, a solo shot to left in the fourth. But the Twins rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning against Johnson (0-1). Brian Dozier had a two-out, two-run double and Morneau added a two-run single to give the Twins a 6-4 lead.
The Orioles scored once more against Worley (1-4), who picked up his first win as a Twin despite giving up five runs in 5 1/3 innings. Machado singled in Ryan Flaherty in the sixth.
The Twins again answered in the bottom of the inning with Ryan Doumit’s two-run homer against Troy Patton.
The Orioles couldn’t score again against the Twins’ bullpen, including Jared Burton, who picked up his first save of the season with a perfect ninth. Burton was filling in for injured closer Glen Perkins.
— Baltimore Sun