Arizona’s Randy Johnson doesn’t throw as hard as he once did, but he’s still capable of dominating a game.
Johnson will try to build on his first win in nearly two months as the Diamondbacks continue their three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen Bank Park on Saturday.
Johnson (5-7, 5.18 ERA) allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory over San Diego on Sunday. The 44-year-old left-hander had gone 0-6 with a 6.32 ERA in eight starts since his last win May 18 against Detroit.
“I don’t care how long you’ve played in this game, and he’s played for a while,” manager Bob Melvin told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “When you have a couple outings that don’t go your way even if you do pitch well at times, you’re kind of wondering when that next win is going to come.”
The five-time Cy Young Award winner built his Hall of Fame career around his high-90s fastball and devastating slider, but he showed Sunday that he can still shut a team down despite decreased velocity. Johnson allowed three hits and struck out 10, the 211th time he has recorded double digits in strikeouts - four shy of Nolan Ryan’s major league record.
The win was his 289th, moving him past Tommy John into sole possession of 24th on the all-time list.
“It seems everyone throws 92 or 93 these days,” Johnson said. “Against a .270 to .300 hitter, you feel a little vulnerable out there. Location is a necessity. My location was a lot better today and my slider was a lot better.”
Johnson has been tough against the Phillies (51-43), going 10-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 19 starts. He gave up four runs in six innings of a 6-4 home win over Philadelphia on May 6.
The Diamondbacks (46-47) could use a long outing from Johnson on Saturday. They’ve gone into extra innings in their last two games, including Friday’s 6-5, 12-inning loss, forcing their relievers to pitch 8 1-3 innings over the two contests.
“We made some mistakes early on, but our bats came alive at the end,” manager Bob Melvin said. “They just had one more big hit than we did.”
Werth is 3-for-9 with a homer and a triple in his career against Johnson.
Ryan Howard went 2-for-5 and hit his major league-leading 28th homer. Howard has four homers in his last three games and is batting .357 (20-for-56) during a 14-game hitting streak.
Adam Eaton (3-7, 5.20 ERA) will again oppose Johnson after giving up six runs in four innings to suffer the loss May 6. He’ll be looking to rebound from a rough outing Monday, when he was pounded for a career high-tying eight runs and 10 hits in a season-low 2 2-3 innings of a 10-9 loss to the New York Mets.
The right-hander is 1-4 with a 6.84 ERA over his last five starts.
“I either pitch well or I pitch bad,” he said. “I can’t seem to get something in between.”