Josh Johnson is now six starts into his 2013 season, and the Toronto Blue Jays still haven’t quite figured out who he is on the mound yet.
Case in point: after making a very impressive return from the DL with a seven-inning, two-run (one earned) gem against the San Francisco Giants on June 4, it was once again back to frustrating half of the JJ program on Sunday at home against the Texas Rangers as Toronto looked to complete a three-game sweep.
The righty may have exited Sunday’s game as the winning pitcher on record, but it was once against his inconsistent ways that failed to put the bluebirds in a solid position to pull off the victory.
At times looking like the ace that Blue Jays Nation thought the team would be getting and at times unable to buy a strike, Johnson led off the game with a walk, and needed a whopping 30 pitches to complete his first inning of work. The next two frames? He breezed through those with just 18 pitches, working his fastball around 93-94 mph and retiring six straight.
And then, of course, the walks came back, with a pair of them in the fourth (and one of them scoring), and Johnson laboring through the rest of his afternoon, needing 109 pitches to work though fix innings of work.
The most frustrating part isn’t just that he left an already-overworked bullpen with another long day of work (which clearly showed as three different relievers allowed a run in consecutive innings), though — it’s that he just couldn’t close frames out when he needed to.
Yes, Johnson allowed just three runs, which isn’t exactly what you’d call disastrous, even if the four walks weren’t great. What really hurts, however, is that the runs shouldn’t have happened at all: all three runs came with two outs, and a pair of the run-scoring hits even game on two strikes.
It was a high-wire act that didn’t quite pan out, and ultimately, the the hurler left the game with that all-important un-quantifiable momentum on the Rangers’ side, as though their comeback from a 4-0 deficit was always going to be just a matter of time.
Josh Johnson was that close to putting on a second-straight quality start for just the first time this season. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old and the Blue Jays, getting two outs just isn’t nearly close enough.