Johnson has been effective but not dominant during his first two months with the Yankees. He missed a start with a left groin injury on May 4, and has had trouble overpowering hitters since his return.
In Sunday’s 6-4 win at Oakland, the 41-year old left-hander failed to register a strikeout for only the fourth time in his surefire Hall of Fame career. He allowed four runs and seven hits over six innings.
The win was the 250th of Johnson’s career, and pushed the Yankees back to .500 at 19-19.
“I didn’t want to be the wheel that fell off the wagon,” Johnson said. ”(Not getting a strikeout) really wasn’t important to me. I was so frustrated after the first inning and realizing I didn’t have my best stuff. After that, you’re trying to do damage control.”
The Big Unit last failed to get a strikeout on Aug. 25, 2000, while pitching just 2 1-3 innings for Arizona against the Mets. In 10 career starts against the Yankees’ crosstown rivals, Johnson is 6-3 with a 2.32 ERA.
He likely will face a different Mets lineup than the one that bumbled its way to a 5-2 defeat to the Yankees in Friday’s series opener.
For the first time since 2000, the reinvigorated Mets came into the Subway Series with a better record than the Yankees, but their new Gold Glove first baseman made an error that led to a run and high-priced newcomer Carlos Beltran left two runners in scoring position before getting an RBI single in the seventh.
“Errors happen and you just hope that if and when they happen, they don’t cost you a run,” Mientkiewicz said. “If I had to do it over, I’d do the same thing.”
Mets manager Willie Randolph indicated he might not start left-handed batters Cliff Floyd and Mientkiewicz against Johnson on Saturday.
Chances are Miguel Cairo will be the first baseman Saturday, as he is hitting .421 (8-for-18) in his career against Johnson.
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