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With 50th save, Johnson sets new AL record

Reliever joins Gagne as only pitchers with consecutive 50-save seasons

BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Jim Johnson recorded his American League-leading 50th save in Sunday's 7-6 victory over the Red Sox, joining Eric Gagne (2002-03) as the only pitchers to record consecutive seasons of 50 or more saves.

"It's one of those things, you won't really truly appreciate it until it's not there," manager Buck Showalter said of Johnson, who had his ups and downs this season and also blew nine saves. "I can't make people realize how hard it is to do what these guys do in the ninth inning. It takes a special set of you-know-whats, and Jimmy's never wavered in his belief in his team.

"We'd all love it to be aesthetically, just go out there, throw nine pitches, strike everybody out, let's go in, the game's over after the eighth inning. There's really only one guy you can say that about [in Yankees closer Mariano Rivera], and he's retiring. He's probably the best that ever was. It's hard to do, and when you find one that can do it, you better realize what you've got. They don't come along too often."

Johnson is the first AL pitcher to achieve the feat and has compiled 101 saves since he was named the full-time closer last spring. Like many of his teammates, the right-hander said Sunday that the personal accomplishments will take some time to sink in as the Orioles (85-77) fell short of making the postseason.

"The bullpen guys are already giving me ideas for gifts that I owe them," Johnson said. "It will settle in. Obviously the year wasn't the way I really wanted it to go, but I'll reflect on it later and we can talk about it in Spring Training or something like that next year."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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