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.