Johnson, whom the Orioles acquired in the George Sherrill trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009 and could have been a minor league free agent this offseason but stayed with the Orioles this winter, got the emergency call after posting a 2.86 ERA in 19 games (14 starts) at Norfolk.
Johnson was first called up in early July and flew to Seattle but didn't pitch and was optioned back to the minors. He made his big league debut July 15 with two innings of relief against the Detroit Tigers but was immediately returned to Triple-A Norfolk again.
“My first appearance, my heart was throbbing pretty good,” he said. “To start the game today, I was pretty calm. I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting to have the same feeling, but it was a little better."
He hadn't made a start at Camden Yards since he was a 14-year-old freshman at St. Paul's and pitched against powerhouse Calvert Hall in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game in 2002. He threw a seven-inning complete game as the Crusaders won, 4-1, for their first MIAA title.
This one was a little better attended, though – with St. Paul's bringing at least 40 alumni and faculty to the game.
Johnson's new teammates showed, too, bashing former Oriole Kevin Millwood (4-10). Millwood lasted just four innings, yielding seven runs on eight hits.
Catcher Matt Wieters followed up his two-homer game Tuesday with two doubles and five RBIs on Wednesday. It's the fourth time in his career, and third time this season, that Wieters has driven in five runs in a game.
Wieters caught all 14 innings Tuesday, but he told Showalter that he wanted to catch the rookie, to help put him at ease, and Showalter agreed.
“It's nice to get a guy's first start to see what you can do to get him through it,” Wieters said. “The way he threw the ball, I think he would have been fine with anyone back there.”
Showalter wouldn't commit to giving Johnson another start — saying there are a lot of moving parts right now — but that seems inevitable.
Johnson, though, is taking nothing for granted, not after deciding to stick with the Orioles and watching that decision pay off.
“I want to be here. I wanted to sign back here. Obviously, I wanted this to happen,” Johnson said. “I wanted to get here with the Orioles, my hometown team. It's who I grew up watching, it's who my dad played for. There's a lot of things going for it. And to finally get here and make it happen, it means a whole lot.”