Johnson Dominates -- M's Lefty Takes Command, Blanks Boston's Hot Sox
Is this a different Randy Johnson?
The Seattle Mariner left-hander seems to be changing some past tendencies this season. Take his performance last night, a 5-0 shutout of baseball's heretofore hottest team, the Boston Red Sox, before 13,641 at the Kingdome.
Johnson showed he can throw a complete game without walking everyone but the home-plate umpire. The major-league walk leader the past three seasons issued just one, a two-out pass to the ninth hitter, Luis Rivera, in the third. He was eliminated on a double play. Walks played no factor in this game.
Johnson also can finish a game before the ferry system shuts down. He threw strikes, got ahead in the count and closed out the Red Sox on 123 pitches in a snappy 2 hours, 32 minutes, the Mariners' quickest game this season.
And although he may get agitated and, at times, animated, on the mound, he has learned how to keep his composure and character.
One who might not believe that is Boston left fielder Mike Greenwell.
Greenwell took exception to a first-inning gesture by Johnson after his strikeout. Johnson appeared to flick his arm in Greenwell's direction as if to say, "Sit down, next batter."
Greenwell walked slowly back to the dugout, staring at Johnson. He could be seen yelling from the dugout words that would embarrass a lip-reader.
"He's a competitor and so am I," said Greenwell, who only would make a general comment on the incident. "It was the heat of the
Greenwell, who was hit on the elbow by Johnson last season, may have been a bit too sensitive. Johnson said he meant no disrespect. He said he was just re-adjusting his uniform.
"I don't know what his problem was. As you know I'm animated out there, but I'm not going to show anyone up," Johnson said. "I thought he was asking me if we wanted to go out to dinner together."
Johnson was unperturbed, refusing to be drawn into it with Greenwell. In Greenwell's next three at-bats, with the fans sensing the friction and jeering Greenwell each time, Johnson struck him out two more times and induced a foul pop-up in the ninth. It was the first three-strikeout game in Greenwell's career.
"I couldn't pick up his stuff tonight," Greenwell said. "He had a good tight spin on his slider. He was nasty.
"His slider was his pitch. I was guessing slider and couldn't hit it," he added. "He got me tonight. Maybe next time I'll get him."
In his past eight starts, dating back to last season, Johnson, the American League strikeout king, has 90 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. That works out to an average of 13 per nine innings.
"I was locked in. My concentration is much better," Johnson said. "Me and (catcher) Dave Valle work well together. Whenever he sees me getting out of whack, he just points to his head. That tells me to step off the mound, take a deep breath and get my focus back."
Ken Griffey Jr., who supported Johnson with a pair of home runs, has watched some Johnson three-hour-plus walk-a-thons. But he said Johnson "is more focused. He does not let the little things disturb him anymore. If they hit him, he'll come back with a better pitch."
Johnson (2-1), who struck out eight, allowed a first-inning single but not another hit until the sixth. He gave up just four hits.
"He had full command tonight. Just an outstanding game," Manager Lou Piniella said.
LEARY WILL START AGAINST YANKEES
Veteran Tim Leary will start tomorrow night against his former team, New York, in place of rookie left-hander Mike Hampton.
It will the first season start for Leary, who had been used in long relief.
Hampton, who started last Saturday in Detroit, will remain in the bullpen. Manager Lou Piniella wants to keep his stable of three lefties (Hampton, Norm Charlton, Russ Swan) and three righties (Dwayne Henry, Jeff Nelson, Rich DeLucia) available.
-- One pitcher who was not available last night was Charlton. He had the flu and didn't have the strength to bring in a 95 mph fastball.
Piniella designated DeLucia as his closer. He has one career major-league save. But the game was never delivered to him because of Randy Johnson's dominance.
Charlton is expected to be ready tonight.
-- Lee Tinsley, who was sent down to Class AAA Calgary when Mackey Sasser was activated last night, had only eight at-bats for the big club with one hit.
That one hit was April 11 against Baltimore, opening the ninth with a single. He scored the tying run that inning, and the Mariners eventually won 7-6 in 12 innings.
-- The Mariner game was broadcast in Spanish last night for the first time.
Two stations, Yakima's KYXE and KWBY in Woodburn, Ore., picked up the feed with Paul Castro doing the play-by-play.
There will be 28 Spanish broadcasts this season - every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday home game.
Piniella, who speaks fluent Spanish, even did the pregame show in Spanish. Mi O Mi.
-- Saturday's home game with New York will be shown on local TV. Ken Levine will join the broadcast team.
ATTENDANCE Last night: 13,641.
Home season total: 220,859.
Avg. for 7 games: 31,551.
-- Calgary (5-9) 10, Vancouver 9.
-- Jacksonville (5-10) 12, Carolina 6 (5 innings, rain).
-- Riverside (7-6) 5, High Desert 2.
-- Rockford 4, Appleton (4-5) 0.
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