Johnson, who failed to live up to his own standards of excellence during his first three months in New York, has been coming on in July. The five-time Cy Young Award winner opened the month with a 10-2 loss at Detroit, but has rebounded with three straight victories, including Saturday’s 7-4 win at archrival Boston.
Acquired this past offseason to help New York get past Boston after last year’s epic postseason collapse, Johnson is 3-0 in four starts against the Red Sox in 2005. However, the Big Unit is just 7-6 against everyone else.
Johnson allowed four runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings at Fenway Park on Saturday, posting just his third win in eight road starts for New York.
With starters Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano and Chien-Ming Wang on the disabled list, Johnson knows his role as staff ace is even more important as New York tries to keep up with Boston and Baltimore in the tightly packed AL East race.
“Between me and Mike (Mussina), we need to go out there now, with the status of our rotation, and go deep in the game, give our bullpen a little break,” Johnson said. “With the other pitchers that are going to go out there the other three days, you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
The Yankees got a solid 5 1-3 innings from spot starter Aaron Small in Wednesday’s 8-4 victory over Texas. Tino Martinez and Jason Giambi each hit two homers and rookie Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada also homered for New York, which won for the 12th time in 15 games. The Yankees are a half-game behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
The Angels dropped the final two games of their series with surging Oakland, including Wednesday’s 3-0 setback.
The Angels are 9-10 following a season-high eight-game winning streak.