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While the Tigers continue to scramble to find help for a questionable bullpen, Jim Johnson took one step closer to becoming an answer.
Johnson threw two scoreless innings in the Mud Hens 11-0 win over Indianapolis Wednesday, retiring all six batters he faced while notching one strikeout.
“Every outing I feel a little better,” Johnson said afterwards. “I feel I’m getting close to being ready.”
Johnson threw 14 of his 18 pitches for strikes, flashing a sinking fastball that sat at 92-93 mph while throwing a change-up and curveball for strikes as well.
“He threw the ball better,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said of Johnson. “He had good bite to his breaking ball, and he threw his fastball for strikes.
“He was pretty sharp.”
This is Johnson’s third appearance with the Hens, and his first covering two innings. He allowed two hits and two runs in 2/3 of an inning in a loss to Lehigh Valley Aug. 8, then gave up a walk in a scoreless inning two days later.
Johnson, who had 51 saves for Baltimore in 2012 and 50 saves for the Orioles a year ago, struggled after he was traded to Oakland in the off season. This year he was 4-2 with two saves and a 7.14 ERA with the Athletics, including a 20.25 ERA in July.
As a result, Oakland designated him for assignment on July 24, then released him Aug. 1. He signed with the Tigers Aug. 5.
“Maybe in a couple of days I’ll be able to help [the Tigers] out,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I feel I need at least one more game here.
“I’d like to come into a ‘situation’ here to get a little adrenaline going. Other than that, I’m commanding the ball better and I’m comfortable in my delivery.”