Randy Johnson and David Wells have been stoppers plenty of times over the course of three decades in the majors. Johnson won’t have to wait long to prove he can still be one in his second stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks, losers of a season-worst four straight, send Johnson to the mound for the first time since 2004 Tuesday night as they face Wells and the San Diego Padres in a game featuring a matchup of the oldest left-handed starters in major league history.
Johnson and Wells are both 43 years old, and will hook up to top the combined age of two lefties who matched up earlier this season when New York Mets ace Tom Glavine and Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer (85 years, 163 days) set the record on April 12.
The Yankees’ Tommy John and White Sox pitcher Jerry Reuss were the previous record holders (83 years, 299 days) when they faced off on May 2, 1988.
Arizona (10-10) re-acquired Johnson in an offseason trade with the New York Yankees, but he has yet to pitch after undergoing back surgery in October. He was with the Diamondbacks from 1999-2004, going 103-49 and winning four NL Cy Young Awards before being dealt to the Yankees.
The Diamondbacks, losers of six of seven, have been struggling to score runs and can certainly use a strong performance from Johnson. Arizona was swept in a three-game series at San Francisco over the weekend, totaling three runs and going 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position.
“We knew in our division pitching was the way it was going to be,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said after losing the finale 2-1 on Sunday. “We knew pitching would be the dominant force in the division, and so far it has been. We feel good about Randy going Tuesday.”
Johnson went 17-11 with a 5.00 ERA in 33 starts for the Yankees last season. He is 14-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 22 appearances against the Padres (11-8), but hasn’t faced them since his last season with Arizona.
Wells (0-1, 5.06 ERA) is coming off a strong outing against the Diamondbacks, but didn’t receive a decision after allowing two runs and three hits in seven innings in San Diego’s 5-2 loss on Wednesday. He is 3-2 with a 4.23 ERA in nine starts against Arizona.
The Padres had a three-game winning streak end Sunday despite another strong pitching performance, losing 4-2 at Colorado in the finale of a three-game series.
“We won two of three and gave up one, three and four runs. That’s good pitching,” San Diego manager Bud Black said.
Padres second baseman Marcus Giles is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday after taking his first day off of the season. He has an 11-game hitting streak that has raised his average from .308 to .347 since April 10.
The Diamondbacks and Padres split a two-game set in San Diego last week.