Jim Johnson is one of the reasons the Baltimore Orioles made the 2012 postseason. Now, he is one of the primary reasons they are one game away from elimination, after losing 3-2 to the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS.
The loss was a far cry from the team’s 29-9 (.763) record in one-run games this year, the highest winning percentage in one-run games in major league history.
Johnson’s regular-season success is what makes his postseason failures so surprising. He tallied a club record 51 saves in 71 appearances in the regular season.
As Dan Connolly from the Baltimore Sun pointed out on his Twitter account, Johnson has given up a disproportionate amount of home runs this postseason.
Jim Johnson had allowed 3 HRs in 71 regular season games. He has given up 2 in three postseason games vs Yankees.
— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) October 11, 2012
In Game 1 of the ALDS, he took the mound in the top of the ninth inning with a 2-2 tie and only lasted 0.1 innings on 17 pitches.
Yankees catcher Russell Martin led off the inning and broke the tie with a home run to left field. Johnson would give up three more earned runs and an unearned run thanks to a J.J. Hardy throwing error.
The Orioles must have performed the Heimlich maneuver prior to Game 2, as he successfully recorded the save. Unfortunately, his clutch airway must not have been cleared as he would choke again.
This time, Johnson took the mound in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS with a 2-1 lead in his favor.
After he successfully got Ichiro Suzuki to left-fielder Nate McLouth for the first out of the inning, Joe Girardi made a lineup change.
Not just any change, he sent in Raul Ibanez to pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez.
Ibanez took a second-pitch fastball and sent it over the right field fence to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
The Ibanez home run was the only hit Johnson gave up in the two innings he pitched. However, when you are the closer with a one-run lead, in the bottom of the ninth in the postseason, one home run is too many.
Ibanez would return in the bottom of the 12th inning to hit the walk-off home run off Orioles reliever Brian Matusz.
Of course, if Johnson would’ve completed the save in the ninth, there would have been no 12th inning.
Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.