In a troubling season, Randy Johnson’s biggest trouble may be his inability to avoid giving up the home run.
The five-time Cy Young Award winner seeks to bounce back from another shaky outing when the New York Yankees (36-26) continue a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians (30-33) at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Johnson (7-5, 5.63 ERA) was hit hard again his last time out, allowing six runs and six hits over four innings of a 6-5 loss to Oakland on Friday. He gave up three more homers, a season high, to bring his total for the year to 15.
“I was fighting myself and fighting the strike zone a little bit,” Johnson said. “I didn’t have much.”
The Big Unit has surrendered 10 homers in his last 33 1-3 innings spanning six starts, doing nothing to dispel the notion that his dominance may be fading at age 42. Last year, he gave up a career-high 32 homers in his first season with New York.
Johnson is 11-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 24 games against Cleveland. The left-hander has faced the Indians just once since 1998, beating them July 10 by allowing three runs and nine hits over six innings of a 9-4 victory.
The Yankees would like to see Johnson turn in an outing similar to what the emerging Chien-Ming Wang gave them Tuesday night. Wang allowed five hits over 7 1-3 innings in a 1-0 victory that ended a four-game losing streak for New York.
“We needed to win that game,” Derek Jeter said. “Wang deserves all the credit.”
The offense has sputtered in the last six games for the Yankees, who are batting .206 while scoring 18 runs in that stretch. Reigning AL MVP Alex Rodriguez is 3-for-22 in that span after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Tuesday.
Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi has missed two straight games because of a sore left hand after being hit by a pitch Saturday against Oakland. Giambi said his hand felt a lot better and he hopes to play Wednesday night.
Jeter played his first game at shortstop since being hit by a pitch on his right thumb June 4 at Baltimore and went 2-for-4. Jeter went 1-for-13 over the weekend in a three-game stint at designated hitter.
Cleveland fell for the seventh time in 10 games and was blanked for the fourth time this season. The Indians have lost 14 of their last 16 at Yankee Stadium.
Struggling shortstop Johnny Peralta is expected back in the Indians lineup after he received the day off Tuesday. Peralta is mired in a 3-for-39 slide and is hitting .225 for the year.
“It’s a mental break for him to work on some things,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “It takes time for a player to develop, and we’re trying to expedite that.”
Cleveland starter Jason Johnson (3-6, 5.70) is 1-5 with a 7.79 ERA over his last seven starts. He gave up three runs and 11 hits over seven innings in a 4-1 loss to Oakland last Thursday.
The right-hander is 2-8 with a 3.96 ERA against New York in 14 appearances, including 13 starts.