The intimidating left-hander hopes to build on his best outing in pinstripes when the Yankees try to complete a three-game interleague sweep of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
Johnson was acquired from Arizona on Jan. 11 for pitchers Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and cash considerations. He was also given a two-year contract extension through the 2007 season in the hopes of helping New York recover from its humiliating loss to Boston in last year’s AL championship series.
However, Johnson has been just as inconsistent and unimpressive as the rest of the underachieving Yankees. He split his first 10 decisions, pitching to a 4.07 ERA—nearly a run higher than his career mark.
Johnson had lost back-to-back starts before firing seven innings of four-hit ball in Saturday’s 5-0 victory at St. Louis. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter for the first time in four outings.
“Randy was as good as I’ve seen him,” said Yankees captain Derek Jeter. “It was just what we needed.”
The Yankees have opened a season-high 13-game homestand with consecutive victories, including Wednesday’s dramatic 7-5, 10-inning triumph. Jason Giambi’s two-run homer into the upper deck in the 10th lifted New York to back-to-back wins for the first time since a five-game run from May 22-27.
It was Giambi’s third career game-ending homer—second with the Yankees— and made New York 1-30 this season when trailing after eight innings.
The Pirates have lost three straight since a four-game winning streak.