The oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game will now try to become the second to pitch consecutive no-hitters.
Coming off the most impressive outing of his illustrious career, Randy Johnson will try to deliver another masterful performance when the Arizona Diamondbacks meet the Florida Marlins in the third game of their four-game set at Pro Player Stadium.
In a career that will surely land him in the Hall of Fame, Johnson had already accomplished more than most pitchers in baseball history. But in his most recent outing, he achieved one of the few feats that was missing from his resume.
The 40-year-old left-hander retired all 27 hitters Tuesday in a 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves, becoming the oldest pitcher to ever toss a perfect game. Cy Young, previously the oldest with a perfect game, was 37 when he did it in 1904.
“A game like this was pretty special,” said Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner. “It doesn’t come along very often.”
“This is one of those nights where a superior athlete was on top of his game,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. “There was a tremendous rhythm out there. His focus, his concentration, his stuff, everything was as good as it could possibly be.”
While it was the first perfect game of Johnson’s career, it was his second no-hitter. He no-hit Detroit for Seattle on June 2, 1990, walking six.
“That was far from perfect,” he recalled. “I was a very young pitcher who didn’t have any idea where the ball was going. I was far from being a polished pitcher. Fourteen years later, I’ve come a long way as far as knowing what I want to do.”
The 14 years is the longest span between no-hitters in baseball history. The shortest span was achieved by Cincinnati’s Johnny Vander Meer, who threw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938.
While Johnson is unlikely to match that mark, he will try to help the Diamondbacks break a three-game losing streak.
The Marlins jumped out to a 10-0 lead by the third inning Saturday on their way to an 11-2 rout. Arizona, however, may have lost more than the game.
Richie Sexson, who returned to the lineup Friday after missing more than three weeks with a left shoulder injury, may have aggravated the injury when he checked his swing in the sixth inning. He will be re-evaluated Sunday.
“We’re very concerned, obviously, given the fact the initial diagnosis was six to eight weeks or four to six weeks, depending on which doctor you believe,” Brenly said. “Richie was back after three and felt confident that he had enough strength in that shoulder. He passed all the tests physically on the field that we needed to see, but it’s kind of hard to simulate a check swing.”
The Marlins have won three straight to take a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.
Luis Castillo hit his first career grand slam Saturday, helping Florida tie a franchise record with eight runs in the third inning.
“I’m so happy. I’m lucky if I get one home run this year, and I hit a grand slam,” Castillo said.