Johnson shines in Minor League outing

Johnson shines in Minor League outing

WILMINGTON -- Whether he's pitching in Fenway Park or Frawley Stadium, Jason Johnson treats every start the same way.

Unlike his previous two starts for the Red Sox, Johnson received a much better result on Wednesday.

In a Minor League start for the Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks, Johnson earned the victory by pitching seven innings, giving up 10 hits and four earned runs, as the Blue Rocks defeated the Frederick Keys, 5-4. Johnson had one strikeout, gave up no walks and more importantly, had three broken Frederick bats.

Johnson wasn't sharp the entire game, but he did get 15 groundouts, which meant his sinker was moving properly.

"I did what I needed to do," Johnson said. "That was the reason I came down here, to get my sinker back, and I got it back. I had plenty of ground balls, and guys played great defense behind me. I'm really happy with how it happened."

Johnson was not too happy with his two starts for the Red Sox after being acquired from the Indians on June 21. He was 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA with the Red Sox, after going 3-8 with a 5.96 ERA in 14 starts with the Indians.

When the Red Sox traded for Johnson, they believed he could contribute as a fifth starter. There was reason to be optimistic after Johnson's start in the Carolina League.

Johnson was expected to pitch for either Triple-A Pawtucket or Double-A Portland, but Pawtucket is off until Thursday and Portland did not have games scheduled for Tuesday or Wednesday due to the Eastern League All-Star break.

So Johnson was sent to Wilmington to work on his sinker and his command. While he surrendered 10 hits, many of them squirted through the infield and could have been groundouts.

"That means my sinker is doing what it's supposed to be doing, going down and in on the righty and going down and away on the lefty," said Johnson. "That right there told me what I was trying to achieve worked. I got done what I needed to get done."

Blue Rocks catcher John Otness said the 32-year-old Johnson pitched a solid game.

"Jason looked good," Otness said. "He was sent down here to work on his command and his two-seamer. He developed that. He came to me in the fifth inning and said, 'Hey, I know I can throw that two-seamer at any point in time and sink that over the plate.' He did that tonight.

"You saw all the broken bats, all the ground balls, even though some of them found holes."

Blue Rocks manager Chad Epperson was also impressed with Johnson's performance.

"He looked pretty good," Epperson said. "He induced 15 ground balls. That showed the two-seamer was working."

Johnson said his next work will come in a start for Pawtucket, and then another decision will be made.

But on this night, he wasn't worried about anything except throwing the ball where he wanted.

"I didn't look at the scoreboard," Johnson said. "The only thing I looked at is that I got the ground balls."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.