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Orioles closer Jim Johnson reaches 50-save milestone in win over Red Sox

SportsJim JohnsonBaseballBaltimore OriolesBuck ShowalterMajor League BaseballChris Davis

Orioles closer Jim Johnson has been exceptionally predictable this season: He almost always shuts the door on the opposition, and he always shuts down the questioning after a game when the attention drifts toward him.

On Sunday, the Orioles' regular-season home finale, featured both as Johnson picked up his league- and personal-best 50th save in Baltimore's 6-3 win against Boston.

What does Johnson think about becoming just the 10th pitcher since saves became an official statistic in 1969 to log 50 in one season?

"I'll let you know in three days. We've still got more games to play in," Johnson said. "I've still got to worry about Tampa and they are playing as good as anybody right now. That's really where our focus is right now."

He was asked to take himself out of the equation and talk about how elusive 50 saves is for a closer — only six, including Johnson, have done it in the AL in 43 seasons.

"That wasn't really my goal," said Johnson, who, in his first full year as a closer, broke the Orioles saves record of 45 set by Randy Myers in 1997. "My goal was always whatever helps the team do the best. [That's] what I wanted to do. That's kind of the mindset I had ever since I got to the big leagues. It's not really about me."

His teammates and manager are willing to make it about Johnson, however.

"It's outstanding what he has meant for this team this year and how he has gone about his business. It almost seems like he is unaffected by [the accomplishments]," right fielder Chris Davis said. "That just speaks to his character. It couldn't have happened to a better guy."

Johnson has blown just three saves this season. He converted his first 17 saves in 2012, blew three of his next 16 and has now saved 20 straight. Since his last blown save, when he allowed six earned runs versus Oakland on July 27, he has yielded just two earned runs in his past 25 outings on his way to 50 saves.

"You have no idea how I respect that accomplishment. I've been right there with every one of them," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's been an honor to watch, the whole process of him as a pitcher, a teammate, a man."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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