Arizona’s Randy Johnson knows he isn’t the same pitcher he was in his prime, but he’s still frustrated by his recent struggles.
The 44-year-old left-hander will be trying to shake his longest slump in 16 years and help the Diamondbacks avoid being swept at home by the Padres for the first time as the teams wrap up their three-game series at Chase Field on Sunday.
Johnson (4-7, 5.46 ERA) has dropped his last six starts, posting a 7.94 ERA over that span. The losing streak is his longest, in terms of consecutive decisions and starts, since he dropped eight straight starts in 1992 while still with Seattle.
“It’s been a month’s worth of poor games,” said Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner and 288-game winner. “Obviously, I’m very much aware of that. I’m a little disappointed, obviously. That goes without saying. You just try to regroup, and you look forward to your next start.”
Johnson has allowed seven earned runs in three of his last four starts, including Tuesday’s 8-6 loss to Milwaukee in which he lasted a season-low 3 2-3 innings. Johnson made his name as a hard thrower, but his fastball peaked in the high 80s against the Brewers.
“Velocity is a luxury,” he said. “I don’t have the same velocity. But location is a necessity in pitching, and I haven’t had any of that.”
Johnson will be trying to bounce back against a team he has had plenty of success against in the past. In 25 career appearances - 24 starts - against the Padres, he is 15-5 with a 2.44 ERA.
In two April starts against San Diego (35-53), Johnson went 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA. He is 3-3 in eight home starts this season despite a 7.17 ERA.
The Diamondbacks (43-45) are in desperate need of a strong start from Johnson. After falling 4-2 on Saturday, they are on the verge of being swept at home by San Diego for the first time since entering the league as an expansion team in 1998.
Arizona has dropped 11 of its last 15 and is two games under .500 for the first time this season. Its NL West lead has dwindled to just a half-game over the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
“It’s just kind of the same old theme here,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “They get a couple of runs and we have a hard time coming back.
“We just have to start playing better. We have to start scoring runs, getting some good at-bats and getting a different feeling from the group. We don’t have as confident a look in our eye.”
The Padres own the second-worst record in the majors, but have won three of five since an eight-game losing streak. Former Diamondback Scott Hairston homered twice Saturday, and Adrian Gonzalez also connected.
“Scotty’s one of those guys that when he gets hot, he gets hot,” manager Bud Black said.
Khalil Greene, who went 1-for-4, is 7-for-18 (.389) with a homer and four doubles all-time against Johnson.
In the finale, San Diego will hand the ball to starter Josh Banks (2-3, 2.89), who has dropped each of his last three starts, registering a 5.74 ERA over that span. The right-hander gave up four runs in five innings of Tuesday’s 4-0 loss in Colorado.
Banks, acquired off waivers from Toronto in April, has never faced Arizona.