He appeared to turn the corner with a brilliant performance in his last start, and building on that outing shouldn’t be too difficult.
Johnson looks to continue his dominance of the Washington Nationals and keep up his strong pitching in May as the Marlins try to win their second in a row in Sunday’s series finale.
Johnson (2-1, 3.19 ERA) won a career-best 15 games last season to emerge as a staff ace for Florida (12-12), but failed to pitch past the sixth inning in any of his first four outings this year.
He put an abrupt end to his early scuffling Monday by throwing a three-hitter in a 10-1 win over San Diego. The right-hander struck out a career-best 12, walked one and threw 117 pitches in his fourth complete game, first since June 14, 2009.
“It felt good to finally get in that rhythm and find that tempo,” said Johnson, who also went 3 for 4 with three RBIs at the plate. “It has been a long time coming.”
Johnson appears to have a good opportunity to win his second straight when he takes the ball against one of his favorite opponents. The Marlins’ opening day starter is 5-0 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 starts against the Nationals, and is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in four home games against them since 2008.
Taking the mound in May only seems to help Johnson’s chances.
In 12 career May starts, Johnson, who has a 3.39 ERA in 91 career games, is 5-2 with a 2.36 ERA - his best for any month.
Florida opened May with a 7-1 win over the Nationals (13-11) to get back to .500 after losing five of its last six in April. Jorge Cantu(notes) hit a two-run homer, while Hanley Ramirez(notes) went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs after hitting .208 with a solo homer in his previous seven games.
Volstad pitched a four-hitter to put an end to the Nationals’ three-game winning streak. Ryan Zimmerman(notes) had two of those hits, and is 5 for 8 with two homers and two doubles in the first two games of this series after being out of the starting lineup in each of the previous seven contests.
Zimmerman is batting .410 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in his last nine games against the Marlins, but is 4 for 18 (.222) with no extra-base hits lifetime against Johnson.
Lannan has had to work out of plenty of jams in his last two starts, having allowed 22 baserunners over 12 innings. Against Chicago on Monday, the left-hander yielded three runs, five hits and a season-high five walks in six innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss.
“I’m just battling every game so far,” Lannan told the Nationals’ official website. “I’m not going to force it, but I’m waiting for it to click and have a strong outing from start to finish.”
Facing the Marlins could facilitate this, as Lannan is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last three starts against them.