screen-shot-2017-04-19-at-5-22-15-pmBy Katherine Fominykh 4/19/2017

When Brian Johnson walked to the mound last night, he carried more than most. He was a caricature of the old saying “when it rains it pours,” a victim of more than run-of-the-mill baseball misfortunes.

After a catastrophic failure in his Major League debut in 2015 against the Houston Astros, Johnson was taken out in the fifth and shipped back to the minors the same night. In the same season, Johnson injured his elbow and had to finish the year on the disabled list. To add to the mess, Johnson was then a target of an armed carjacking in Florida. Not many baseball players have to stare down the barrel of a pistol and wonder if it was going to end there.

For Johnson, it didn’t end there. As if a quick failure in the Majors, a season-ending injury in the minors, and a carjacking weren’t enough, Johnson left the game due to crippling anxiety.

This year was a possible new start. Johnson pitched three Spring Training games before being sent down to the PawSox, a heartbeat away from Fenway down the 95 corridor. Unfortunately for Johnson, in his second game in Pawtucket, he was met with a line drive that smacked him right in the head.

It would be astronomically optimistic for Johnson to think that baseball was still the path for him. Nevertheless, he persisted. Up in Boston, starter Eduardo Rodriguez was set to miss a start on paternity leave, and the Red Sox needed a pitcher. And so they called up Brian Johnson.

It would be fair to say that there was some doubt surrounding Johnson last night against Toronto. Yes, the Blue Jays had only won two games this year, and it might have been easier pickings for any potential pitcher. Keep in mind, this was a once-injured, seemingly career-minor-leaguer called up in a pinch to fill the void.

Johnson may not have given a powerhouse Chris Sale-like performance, but regardless, he beat the Blue Jays down. The Red Sox beat Toronto 8-7, achieving a fourth-straight win for the team and the first-ever Major League “W” for Brian Johnson.

“It’s huge,” Johnson said. “I didn’t even think about a win until about the seventh. I didn’t put it together. In the last inning, I felt like my heart was racing a little bit.”

Johnson struck out six, allowed seven hits, and had three walks. For a guy who manager John Farrell thought was behind Kyle Kendrick and Henry Owens in the pecking order, it wasn’t a bad outing at all.