Fifth inning spoils Johnson's MLB debut


Brian Johnson's first career major-league game didn't start the way he hoped it would . . . and certainly didn't end the way he hoped, either.

Johnson walked Jose Altuve to begin Tuesday's game, and then watched as Altuve stole second base on the very next pitch.

The No. 2 hitter, Marwin Gonzalez, singled to put runners on the corners, and the No. 3 hitter, Carlos Correa, drove in Altuve with a sacrifice fly for the game's first run. Just like that.

This isn't the minors anymore, kid.

But what Johnson did next -- get Evan Gattis to ground into a double play -- gave him the confidence he needed to shake the jitters and settle in.

"I would imagine that there was some nerves that he was dealing with in that first inning," John Farrell told reporters after the game. "He was able to get out of that first-and-third situation with just the one run allowed. But the pitch count climbed."

Johnson's debut came on 15 days rest; the team called him up prior to the All-Star break and didn't use him until their fifth game after the break. But after the game he said it wasn't an issue.

"I think my arm felt great," Johnson told reporters. "I think if anything it just kind of felt a little rusty and I felt like by the end of my [pregame warmups] I knocked it off and it was fine. My curveball felt good today, fastball command got better later in the game, and my slider was okay at times. Better here and there. But felt great."

Johnson was effective until a fifth inning that got away from him and the Sox in many ways. Leading 3-1, Johnson didn't help himself by putting himself in a first-and-third, no-out situation. Catcher Ryan Hanigan, in an attempt to throw Jake Marisnick out trying to steal second base, made a bad throw that hit Marisnick and rolled into left field, scoring not just the runner from third base, but Marisnick himself.

With Hanley Ramirez playing a deep left field and perhaps reacting a bit slow to the play, Marisnick was able to go all the way home.

"I rushed it a little bit," Hanigan told reporters. "It kind of tailed on me. Unfortunately it hit the runner and took off into left and they both scored. It was kind of a tough play momentum-wise for that game because we were in control of the game until that happened. But that's not on Brian, that's on me. He pitched a pretty solid game."

Johnson wouldn't put any blame on Hanigan after the game, instead crediting him for the game he called behind the plate.

But just how he began his outing with a walk to Altuve, he ended it with a walk to Altuve. Johnson was then yanked with one out in the fifth inning. He was charged with three of the four runs that scored in the inning, as reliever Justin Masterson allowed Altuve to score. Johnson allowed four runs total on three hits and four walks with three strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches, 50 for strikes.

Contact Us