Randy Johnson has amassed 4,680 strikeouts in his career - second-most all-time. On Monday afternoon, he faces the opponent against which he recorded his first.
On Tuesday night at Milwaukee, Johnson (4-2, 3.88 ERA) wasted little time passing Roger Clemens for second on the strikeout list, retiring Mike Cameron in the first inning for the 4,673rd of his career. The 44-year-old left-hander went on to fan a total of eight Brewers in 6 1-3 innings.
“If I was to retire right now, I’d be pretty proud of where I stand in the history of the game, simply because I never imagined doing these things,” he said.
Johnson, though, took the 7-1 loss after he allowed four runs - three earned - six hits and one walk. The Diamondbacks (34-29) have lost his last three starts despite his 2.79 ERA in that span, as they’ve provided him with only five total runs of support.
Although he increased his strikeout total to 4,680 against the Brewers, Johnson recorded his first against Pittsburgh first baseman Orestes Destrade on Sept. 15, 1988. Johnson, then making his major-league debut with the Montreal Expos, struck out five Pirates over five innings and got credit for a 9-4 win.
He’s been tough on the Pirates (30-33) ever since, going 9-5 with a 2.21 ERA in 14 career starts against them. He’s recorded double-digit strikeout totals in nine of those 14 outings, including the last three.
Arizona gave up only four total runs while winning the first two games of this series, but surrendered five in the fourth inning alone Sunday en route to a 6-4 defeat. Jason Bay’s two-run double highlighted the rally for Pittsburgh.
Bay is putting together a solid bounce-back season after he hit a career-low .247 in 2007. The Pirates left fielder is batting .358 (24-for-67) with four homers and 14 RBIs over his last 17 games, raising his season average 30 points to .289 in that span.
The Pirates are 15-7 this season when Bay has at least one RBI, compared with a 15-26 mark when he does not drive in a run. Including Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth, Pittsburgh’s starting outfield has already combined for 37 home runs and 124 RBIs.
“We have a lot of guys who are having tremendous years,” Pirates third baseman Jose Bautista said. “Now we’ve got some other guys starting to come around.”
As they seek to salvage a series split and earn their fourth win in six games overall, the Pirates will send Zach Duke (3-4, 4.19) to the mound.
The left-hander limited Houston to two runs and seven hits over 7 2-3 innings of Wednesday’s 5-2 victory, avoiding a personal three-start losing streak and turning in what Pittsburgh manager John Russell called his best performance of the season.
Duke is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA against Arizona in two career starts, both of which came in 2006.
Saturday’s loss was the ninth in 13 games overall for the NL West-leading Diamondbacks, who are averaging just 3.2 runs per game and batting .221 as a team in that span.
“We’ve showed that we’ve been really good, we showed that we haven’t been good at times,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “But you’ve got to stay with our guys - our guys are our guys, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.
“You’ve got to go with your core group, the guys who got us off to a great start and swung the bats well early in the season.”