Randy Johnson insisted it was no big deal to face the team with which he achieved so much success. Perhaps it will be different for him when he does it in the ballpark he called home for many years with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Big Unit returns to Chase Field for the first time as a visitor when the San Francisco Giants continue a three-game set against the Diamondbacks on Saturday night.
Johnson (1-2, 5.87 ERA) made his first start against Arizona (6-10) on Sunday a memorable one by taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning to pitch San Francisco (7-8) to a 2-0 victory. He struck out seven to bounce back after posting an 11.42 ERA in losing his first two outings.
“Sometimes you have to put blinders on when it comes to certain teams,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to pitch well. It’s nice to go out there and feel like I’m contributing after the last two starts.”
Augie Ojeda’s leadoff double in the seventh was the only hit off Johnson. Hitters 2 through 5 in the Arizona lineup went 0-for-9 with a walk and four strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks are eager for another shot at Johnson.
“He pitched a great game, but it’s a whole new game,” Arizona outfielder Chris Young told the team’s official Web site. “Somebody can go out there and have a great game, and the next time you get to him.”
The five-time Cy Young Award winner is 65-34 with a 2.94 ERA in 126 starts in Phoenix, including 58-27 with a 2.67 ERA in his first stint with Arizona from 1999-2004. Those years included four straight Cy Youngs from 1999-2002, and the Diamondbacks’ World Series title in 2001.
“He should get a tremendous reception, for all he’s done for that organization,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’ve got a World Series ring, and that doesn’t happen without Randy Johnson.”
Johnson will square off against Diamondbacks starter Max Scherzer (0-1, 3.60) for the second straight outing. Scherzer allowed one run and three hits over five innings Sunday to take the loss.
The right-hander fell to 0-5 with a 3.45 ERA in nine career starts.
Both pitchers will take the mound one day after Tim Lincecum pitched a gem as the Giants won 5-1 on Friday in the opener of this three-game set. Lincecum struck out 12 in eight innings and gave up one run for his first victory of the season.
This series features two of the worst offenses in baseball. San Francisco is last in the majors with 51 runs while Arizona is tied with Houston for second-to-last with 55.
Arizona is getting used to seeing outstanding pitching from San Francisco. The Diamondbacks are batting .143 with three runs scored in losing three of four to the Giants this year.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have had problems retiring the Giants’ Bengie Molina. He is 7-for-17 against them this season after going 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs on Friday.