Johnson looks to bounce back from a rough outing when he faces the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in his second start since rejoining Arizona’s rotation.
Johnson went 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA in five starts from May 15-June 10, but was placed on the disabled list June 15 with tightness in his buttocks muscle. Four days later, Johnson (4-3, 3.81) was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his surgically repaired back.
The 43-year-old left-hander returned to the Diamondbacks’ rotation Thursday, allowing four runs, six hits and two walks in just three innings of a 9-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Johnson, though, didn’t blame his back for the poor performance.
“I chalk this up hopefully to just coming off the disabled list and not pitching in 18 days,” he said. “I threw 70 pitches in three innings which is a lot of pitches in a short period of time. I missed my spots most of the time.”
Arizona manager Bob Melvin agreed the layoff probably hurt Johnson.
“He wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen this year and his velocity went down in that (third) inning,” Melvin said. “Hopefully the next time the endurance will get better. He wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen but that’s to be expected coming off the DL.”
Johnson now gets to face the Cardinals (37-42), who he hasn’t pitched against since earning a 5-0 win on June 11, 2005, while with the New York Yankees. Johnson is 6-6 with a 3.58 ERA in his career against St. Louis, striking out 112 in 93 innings.
The Cardinals won 11-3 in the opener of this four-game series Monday, sending the Diamondbacks (46-38) to their third straight loss and sixth in eight contests.
The Cardinals will now be looking to win three straight for the first time since early June.
“It’s good to see the whole team coming out with big hits and when we need it, big plays,” Pujols said.
Todd Wellemeyer (2-1, 6.04) takes the mound for St. Louis on Tuesday, coming off his best start since joining the Cardinals’ rotation on May 30. The right-hander allowed one run, three hits and struck out five over six innings as St. Louis beat the NL East-leading New York Mets 5-3 in 11 innings last Tuesday.
Wellemeyer was 0-1 with an 8.06 ERA in 16 relief appearances before being put in the rotation, but is 2-0 with a 4.45 ERA in six starts.
“He’s been very good,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “Every time he’s out there, he’s doing more.”
Wellemeyer has made three relief appearances in his career against Arizona, allowing three runs and six hits over four innings. He hasn’t faced the Diamondbacks since pitching for the Chicago Cubs in April 2005.