Johnson tries to help New York (8-8) get back over .500 and take two of three from the Baltimore Orioles when the teams meet at Yankee Stadium in the series finale on Sunday.
Johnson (2-2, 4.63 ERA) has alternated wins and losses in his first four starts, the last a 10-5 loss on Tuesday to Toronto in which the 42-year-old left-hander gave up seven runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings.
New York has alternated wins and losses in its last five games. After beating the Orioles 6-1 on Saturday in cold, rainy weather, the Yanks will be looking for consecutive wins for only the second time this season.
For a team with World Series aspirations, the Yankees have languished in last place in the AL East for much of April, just like last season, when they started 11-19.
“We’ve been in every single game, we just don’t have the record we’d like to have,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “I’m satisfied with the effort that everybody is putting out there. We have the energy going from day one this year.
“When you have veterans like we have, you have a tendency to be a little more patient.”
Jorge Posada will be the Yankees’ catcher on Sunday after Kelly Stinnett had caught Johnson’s last two starts. Stinnett was in the lineup Saturday and, with an off-day Monday, Torre didn’t want Posada sitting for three straight days.
Hideki Matsui, who struck out looking with the bases loaded in a 6-5 loss in the series opener on Friday, atoned with a two-run double in the sixth inning Saturday that put the Yankees comfortably ahead 4-1.
Matsui is 3-for-7 with two doubles in the series after going 2-for-19 in his previous five games.
“Matsui was incredible,” Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon said. “Trying to hit a guy throwing 95-plus in 40-degree weather, that’s hard.”
The Orioles (11-8) saw their three-game winning streak snapped in the loss. Baltimore, which scored 33 runs in those victories, managed only six hits Saturday.
Baltimore will start Bruce Chen (0-2, 8.10) on Sunday. The left-hander has gotten off to a slow start this season, allowing 15 earned runs in 16 2-3 innings.
Chen is 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA in nine games against the Yankees. Johnson was 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA in four starts against Baltimore in 2005.
“Anytime you play these guys, it doesn’t matter who’s pitching against us. You’ve got a tough road to hoe,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “Randy’s pretty tough. I’ve been a coach when he’s been a pitcher, out in Seattle. He’s pretty tough, but we’ll show up, give it our best shot and feel good about it.”