Congrats, Jim Johnson!
If you told me in February that the 150th game of the season would end with Jim Johnson’s 46th save, I would’ve been skeptical. He’s really grown as a reliever over the past few seasons, sure, but I didn’t think the team would give him that many leads.
Tonight, Jim Johnson set a club record for saves in a season by notching number 46 after the Orioles beat Jon Lester for the very first time (they lost to him the previous 21 times they’d faced him). Basically, tonight was a groundbreaking evening.
The sad bit is that the Yankees won, too, so we don’t get to be tied for first place again after this exciting evening. However, we have taken the top spot in the Wild Card since Oakland lost – to the Yankees, naturally, since all these things have to be interdependent on each other to make things extra-stressful this time of year. It’s almost become a sort of dance at this point – everything these three teams do is going to affect how their postseasons begin and likely how they end, as well. The two that face each other in the one-game playoff get a roster reset after the playoff is over and then have to proceed into the ALDS, whilst the division-winning one doesn’t have to stress over that extra game.
Oakland might not even be team number three, depending on whether or not they can catch the Rangers. They’re 4.5 games out with less than fifteen to play, but they still have seven games left against the Rangers – three at home and four away.
But let’s talk about the Orioles for a moment here and look at their remaining schedule versus the Yankees’ schedule. The Orioles have two more games at Fenway before returning home, where they take on Toronto for four games (including the make-up doubleheader), get a day off, and then play the Red Sox again for three more games. They then finish up in Tampa Bay for three games. It’s a softer schedule, really, since we know the Orioles can handle these teams just fine. The Yankees still have two games left against Oakland, which is a big deal. They then face the Twins and the Blue Jays, who aren’t big deals, before finishing their regular season at home against Boston. The Red Sox are going to want to play spoiler, so that’s also a big deal.
It’s really coming down to who has the most hunger at this point. This is getting pretty darn tense.