But those bats the Brewers’ right-hander used to slap the first two hits of his career against the Arizona Diamondbacks’ venerable veteran? McClung said he’s sending them straight to the hall—the one in his house, anyway.
“Randy Johnson’s one of the greatest pitchers of all time,” McClung said. “I just saw it and swung.”
Johnson began Tuesday night by passing Roger Clemens and taking sole possession of second place on baseball’s career strikeout list. But it was McClung, Ryan Braun and the Brewers who came away with a 7-1 victory.
Milwaukee now has won five straight and eight of its last nine games after a disappointing start to the season.
“Even when times were tough for us earlier in the year, nobody on our team panicked,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “We stayed patient, we understood that things would turn around and guys would get hot.”
Milwaukee had to stay patient at the plate with Johnson (4-2), who was nearly untouchable through the first five innings. His first-inning strikeout of Mike Cameron was the 4,673rd of his career, putting him in second place but still far behind Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.
“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,” Johnson said.
Johnson went on to strike out eight and gave up only three hits through five — all singles, two of which came from McClung.
“I’m sure we’re going to hear about that,” said Brewers reliever Brian Shouse, who pitched the final two innings for his second save.
Johnson made a stunning play on a sharp ground ball by Prince Fielder in the fourth, reaching back to his left and snagging the ball out of the air with his bare left hand.
“I’m sure it’ll be a little black and blue tomorrow,” Johnson said.
But Johnson got in trouble with a 1-0 lead in the sixth, walking Cameron to lead off the inning and giving up a go-ahead two-run homer to Braun, his 16th of the season. Tuesday was the first time Braun, the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, had faced Johnson.
“I don’t think after three at-bats I can give you a great orientation of what I think of him,” Johnson said. “The numbers indicate he’s a pretty good dog-gone player.”
Braun was impressed.
“He was on top of his game, too,” Braun said. “He was dominant.”
Milwaukee added to its lead in the seventh when Joe Dillon’s double drove in J.J. Hardy from first. Johnson was taken out of the game, tipping his hat as he received respectful applause from Brewers fans.
“As a visiting player, that meant a lot,” Johnson said. “That’s pretty classy and I won’t ever forget that.”
Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said Johnson needed some help from the offense.
“We’re putting some decent individual at-bats together, we’re just not stringing them together,” Melvin said. “I don’t know if he can do much more to give us a win.”
Despite Johnson’s early dominance, Milwaukee was within striking distance thanks to a strong outing by McClung (3-2), who gave up a run and six hits over six innings in his third start of the season.
The Brewers’ offensive struggles included two strikeouts by Bill Hall, who caused a stir this week when his agent suggested that the team would be better off trading him than keeping him in a platoon with Russell Branyan at third base.
Brewers fans didn’t react strongly when Hall’s name was announced before the game, but the boos intensified after Hall struck out for the second time.
“That’s not a problem,” Yost said. “That just shows you the passion our fans have.”
But Hall, who ended up in a platoon role because of his struggles against right-handed pitchers this season, did single off righty reliever Max Scherzer.
The Brewers got home runs from Fielder (10) and Hardy (3) in the eighth. … The Diamondbacks’ fielding problems continued Tuesday, as shortstop Stephen Drew and second baseman Orlando Hudson both committed errors. … Melvin said outfielder Eric Byrnes, who has been on the disabled list since May 27 because of a right hamstring strain, worked out on a stairmaster Tuesday and could begin running at Pittsburgh later this week.