Johnson takes step in the right direction

Inside Pitch: A's take on revitalized Seattle Mariners

Johnson takes step in the right direction
April 12, 2014, 11:15 am
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Jim Johnson tossed two perfect innings on Friday night with the A’s trailing the Mariners 6-0. (USATSI)

Programming note: A’s-Mariners coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations

SEATTLE – On an otherwise forgettable Friday night for the Oakland A’s, one player who had reason to smile was Jim Johnson.

The recently demoted closer tossed two perfect innings in a 6-4 loss to the Mariners, a step in the right direction as the first-year Athletic tries to right himself.

[RELATED: Instant Replay: A's fail to figure out Hernandez, lose 6-4]

“That’s the best we’ve seen him this year, no question about it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “All three pitches were down in the zone, with the sinker … he had the curve ball for a strike. (Throwing) a couple of innings allows you to get in the flow and work on some things, and that was really good stuff.”

Johnson entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with the A’s trailing 6-0, the kind of low-pressure situation that allows a pitcher to iron out some wrinkles. He got Kyle Seager to ground out weakly to first to lead off the seventh, then he mixed his sinker and offspeed stuff well in striking out Stefen Romero and Dustin Ackley. Both went down swinging on curves.

Mike Zunino hit into a 5-3 groundout to start the eighth. Then Johnson threw Abraham Almonte a steady diet of sinkers and got him swinging. Brad Miller went down looking on a sinker to end Johnson’s night.

[RELATED: Rewind: Mariners trying to show A's they're legit]

What’s next?

Melvin said he wouldn’t reinstate Johnson as the closer based on one solid outing. So it will be closer-by-committee again Saturday night when the A’s and Mariners continue their three-game series.

But it was a positive step for a reliever who entered Friday with two losses and an 18.90 ERA through his first five appearances.

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