Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter has had to shuffle his starting rotation on a regular basis over the past two seasons, but that hasn't stopped his club from being successful.
The Orioles made the playoffs in 2012 using 12 different starting pitchers, only three of whom made at least 20 starts for the team. Johnson went 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four starts and had a 2.11 ERA in 12 appearances overall as a rookie last season.
He's pitched exclusively in the minors in 2013, though, after a right lat injury in training camp ended his chances of winning the fifth spot in the rotation. Johnson is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three outings for Triple-A Norfolk.
He'll be the ninth pitcher to make a start for Baltimore this season - tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for most in the majors - after Miguel Gonzalez (thumb blister) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.
"(Johnson) looks good," Showalter told the team's official website. "I thought some of the inactivity he had, he had kind of gotten away from some things because he had to physically. He worked hard to get in good pitching shape."
The Orioles (22-14), with a 3.94 team ERA, haven't seemed to mind the multiple changes to the rotation. They've won five of six after overcoming a six-run deficit to beat Minnesota 9-6 in 10 innings Friday.
"Even though (Baltimore is) the youngest team in our division, they stay within each other and do what they do," Showalter said.
The Orioles finished with a season-best 18 hits, including three each from Manny Machado , Adam Jones and Chris Davis . Machado, who broke the tie with an RBI single in the 10th, is hitting .422 over his last 10 road games.
Nick Markakis went 2 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and is hitting .529 during an eight-game hitting streak versus Minnesota.
"That's a heck of a baseball team over there, and they can run some hitters up there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They can ambush you. They got some big, clutch hits. That's kind of what they're known for."
Markakis went 3 for 3 with a double April 6 off Saturday's scheduled starter, Vance Worley . The right-hander's winless streak reached 12 starts after he left in the sixth inning and the bullpen couldn't hold a two-run lead in Minnesota's 6-5, 11-inning loss at Boston on Monday.
Worley (0-4, 6.95 ERA) is 0-7 with a 6.87 ERA since beating Washington on Aug. 1 while pitching for Philadelphia.
"I'm pretty happy with the outing, but it would've been nice to get a W," Worley said after allowing three runs and not walking a batter for the first time in 2013.
The right-hander blew a two-run lead in the fifth inning when he faced Baltimore last month, allowing five runs overall and 10 hits through five frames before Minnesota pulled out a 6-5 win.
The Twins (16-16) appeared to be headed to a fourth consecutive win Friday before squandering their lead. Joe Mauer went 3 for 5 with a pair of RBIs and is hitting .395 during a nine-game hitting streak.
Minnesota has lost seven of the last nine home meetings with Baltimore.
|May 04, 2013||Miguel Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Right thumb blister|
|May 03, 2013||Chris Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee soreness|
|April 28, 2013||Taylor Teagarden||15-Day DL||Dislocated left thumb|
|April 07, 2013||Nolan Reimold||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring tightness|
|April 05, 2013||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Ruptured tendon, right knee|
|April 04, 2013||Brian Roberts||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring injury|
|April 16, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Back contusion|
|April 16, 2013||Darin Mastroianni||15-Day DL||Stress reaction in left ankle|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- One night after its bullpen struggled mightily, the Minnesota Twins got a stellar performance from a different group of nonstarters.
Brian Duensing pitched two innings of scoreless relief, Casey Fien got two outs and Jared Burton earned his first save with a perfect ninth as the Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-5 Saturday night.
Ryan Doumit homered and Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau each had three hits for the Twins.
Vance Worley struggled through 5 1-3 innings, but earned his first win in 13 starts dating to Aug. 1, 2012.
Baltimore got within 6-5 in the sixth to chase Worley, and had runners on first and second when Duensing came into the game. The left-hander promptly got Nick Markakis to ground into a double play to end the threat.
"That kind of turned the momentum back in our direction," Duensing said. "With that team, momentum can be troublesome. They're a good offensive team."
Josh Roenicke gave up three runs late in Friday's game and Anthony Swarzak allowed three in the 10th inning as Baltimore overcame a six-run deficit to win 9-6.
"I think just for confidence for the whole group out there to do what we did tonight was real important," Duensing said.
Fien got the final two outs of the eighth inning and Burton retired the Orioles No. 2-4 hitters - Manny Machado , Markakis and Adam Jones - for a perfect ninth. Minnesota's normal closer, Glen Perkins , was unavailable with left side soreness.
"Burty told me last night after the game that he's feeling really good, he feels like he's found his pitches and the ball is coming out of his hand real good," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Doumit hit his third home run of the season in the sixth, a two-run shot into the second deck in left field to give Minnesota a little breathing room at 8-5.
Worley (1-4) gave up 11 hits and five earned runs. He struck out one but threw 111 pitches.
He left balls up in the zone and was hit hard in the opening frame when Baltimore took a 3-0 lead. Machado and Jones had doubles, and Markakis and Chris Davis had RBI singles in the inning. Matt Wieters added a sacrifice fly to deep left-center.
"After that I went out there and I wasn't thinking so much," Worley said. "I'm here for a reason. I got to the big leagues pitching and I don't need to think too much about what I need to do out there, just make my pitches."
He got out a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by getting J.J. Hardy to fly out, and allowed an RBI single in the sixth before being pulled.
"I'm just glad (Duensing) came in and finished it for me," Worley said.
Making his season debut for the Orioles, starter Steve Johnson (0-1) cruised through the first two innings, before he began to get behind in counts and the Twins took advantage.
Trailing 4-2 and with two outs in the fourth, Brian Dozier laced a two-run double into the left-field corner to tie it. After an intentional walk to Mauer and a walk to Doumit, Morneau lined a two-run single over the shortstop for a 6-4 lead.
"I couldn't get a good feel for my pitches," said Johnson, who was optioned back to Triple-A after the game. "I couldn't get my secondary stuff over. I started off all right, but I couldn't make a pitch to get out of that inning. It's unfortunate that the team gives you that lead they gave you to not being able to make a pitch and limit the damage. It's not good."
Johnson, who was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games (four starts) for Baltimore last season, hoped to make the Orioles as the team's fifth starter out of spring training, but strained his right lat muscle in late-March. In three Triple-A rehab starts, the right-hander was 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA.
In four innings, he allowed seven hits and six earned runs while striking out three. However, he walked four batters and just 48 of his 88 pitches were strikes.
"Steve came out, hot and ready to go, started out really well, just couldn't maintain it," manager Buck Showalter said. "The first two innings, same type of approach (as last year). He's got some late life on his fastball. The curveball wasn't really there like it normally is. He got some outs with his changeup, but he then he elevated some that hurt him."
Trailing 3-0, Eduardo Escobar doubled leading off the bottom of the third and scored on a double by Mauer. It was the 600th career RBI for Mauer, who scored on Morneau's single.
Wieters homered in the fourth for a 4-2 Baltimore lead.
NOTES: With Johnson being sent down, the Orioles will make a corresponding roster move Sunday. ... Johnson is the ninth pitcher to start for Baltimore this season, tying the Orioles with the Los Angeles Dodgers for most in the majors. ... To make room for Johnson on the roster, Baltimore optioned RHP Alex Burnett to Triple-A Norfolk. ... With Twins LF Josh Willingham getting the day off, Doumit hit third for the first time since Sept 16, 2011, when he was with Pittsburgh. ... Wei-Yin Chen (2-3, 3.40) is scheduled to start for Baltimore on Sunday against Scott Diamond (3-2, 3.03).