Johnson and the Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the second of the three-game series.
Johnson (3-2, 3.73 ERA) makes his second start this season against the Blue Jays after giving up seven runs over 3 1-3 innings in a 10-5 loss on April 18. Kelly Stinnett was catching Johnson in that game, and the Yankees are hoping a different backstop in the rematch can make a difference.
Jorge Posada will be behind the plate with Johnson on the mound for the third time this season, and the pairing has worked well for New York (11-10).
Johnson is 2-0 this season with Posada and, including his relief appearance in Game 5 of last year’s AL division series, the 42-year-old left-hander has an 0.93 ERA in his last three outings with Posada.
In his most recent start, Johnson had Posada behind the plate on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles as he gave up one run and three hits through eight innings in a 7-1 win.
“It’s just another day,” Posada said. “You establish a plan before the game, and we executed it real well.”
The win continued Johnson’s pattern of alternating wins and losses through his first five starts this season.
“I’m going to have some bad starts—I’m only human,” Johnson said.
Though he’s 13-7 with a 3.44 ERA lifetime against the Blue Jays, Johnson is 0-3 in his last four starts against them and has lasted a total of nine innings in the last three, giving up 16 runs and 21 hits.
After winning four of five, the Yankees lost the opener of the series 7-2 on Friday. The Blue Jays (12-9) hit three home runs, including two by Shea Hillenbrand, who had only one home run all season before Friday.
New York’s only runs came off a two-run homer by Bernie Williams in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Derek Jeter was 2-for-5 with two strikeouts on Friday. The Yankees shortstop is hitting .407 this season.
“Derek is really locked in right now,” manager Joe Torre said. “You’d like to believe he can hold on to that concentration the whole year, but we know that can’t happen.”
One person who is hoping Jeter will start to cool off is Josh Towers (0-4, 8.35), who starts Saturday for Toronto. Jeter is batting .444 (12-for-27) against Towers.
In his last start on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, Towers gave up four runs and seven hits through 5 2-3 innings in a 6-3 loss. He continued his trend of falling behind early, giving up three runs in the first inning.
Towers has allowed at least three runs within the first two innings in all four of his starts.
“He finds his groove—finds his rhythm a little bit,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Naturally, when a guy’s struggling, he starts pressing. He’s probably coming out of the gates trying a little too hard. Sometimes the harder you try, the tougher it gets.”
Towers is 1-6 lifetime against the Yankees despite a respectable 3.88 ERA.