Vintage Randy Johnson "Got Old"
Randy Johnson (Getty Images)
Senior Editor
Posted May 10, 2007


A Dominant Big Unit ran out of gas in the 7th inning of Wednesday's start. The Phillies then throttled the Arizona Diamondbacks' bullpen en route to a 9-3 victory. ALSO: A Juan Cruz injury update, Conor Jackson's slump, and Robby Hammock's inactivity.

INSIDE PITCH

It was vintage Randy Johnson. It was a vintage pitching matchup, too, with Johnson facing former Seattle teammate Jamie Moyer.

Wednesday's game between the Diamondbacks and the Phillies had all the makings for great theater. It was a matchup featuring the oldest opposing left-handed starting pitchers in major league history at 88 years, 48 days. It was also the first time the lefties had faced each other in 17 years, 230 days -- the longest period between starts for opposing pitchers in major league history.

Then it looked as if Johnson, 43, would make some more history on his own when he struck out the first six batters he faced at Chase Field. The streak ended in the top of the third when Abraham Nunez hit a single back up the middle, leaving Johnson two strikeouts shy of tying the major league record for the start of a game set in September 1986 by Houston's Jim Deshaies.

Johnson left after nine strikeouts, holding a 3-0 lead, but he left the bases loaded in the seventh, and reliever Brandon Medders allowed a first-pitch, pinch grand slam to Ryan Howard. The Phillies then throttled the Diamondbacks bullpen en route to a 9-3 victory.

Johnson, still seeking his first win since returning to Arizona following a two-year stint with the Yankees -- and still 20 wins shy of reaching the 300-wini plateau -- was more than pleased with his effort. At least until the seventh inning.

"I might have looked like the old Randy for the first six innings. Then, I just got old," Johnson said, smiling.

Manager Bob Melvin said, "That was the best we've seen him all year. Especially his slider. We've seen it before, but that's the best we've seen it this season."

Johnson felt empathy for Medders, saying, "That's the kind of stuff you're going to learn from. I'm learning all the time I go out there. That's baseball. You see something different every day."

PHILLIES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 3: Ryan Howard hit a pinch grand slam off reliever Brandon Medders in the seventh inning Wednesday, and the Phillies put up five more runs after falling behind 3-0 to Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks.

Johnson, who struck out the first six batters of the game and ended up with nine strikeouts overall, created a bases-loaded situation in the seventh with no outs by allowing a single to Aaron Rowand, hitting Chase Utley with a pitch, and then walking Pat Burrell.

Medders came on, and Howard, nursing an injured left leg for the past several days, hit the first pitch 377 feet for his fourth career grand slam and the 17th pinch slam in Phillies history.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Juan Cruz, who made two rehab outings following a sore shoulder, which included a five-strikeout performance during two innings for Class AAA Tucson on Tuesday, could be activated in another day or so.

--1B Conor Jackson hasn't collected an RBI since April 18, when he drew a bases-loaded walk off San Diego LHP David Wells.

--UT Robby Hammock has gone 12 games between starts, in part because manager Bob Melvin needed him on the bench as the team spent a stretch of six games not being able to use 3B Chad Tracy because of a ribcage strain.

"When Tracy was on the bench, I couldn't do anything," Melvin said. "I didn't have another infielder, and I had to wait in case something happened. If somebody got hurt, (Hammock) was my only other option. He's a safety valve for us in a lot of different areas, but it doesn't mean it's great for him because of the lack of playing time. That's one guy I just haven't been able to get in."

Hammock has caught two of LHP Randy Johnson's starts, but that job went to Chris Snyder on Wednesday against the Phillies.

--RHP Micah Owings might be skipped in the rotation because of two days off during a one-week stretch in the schedule, but manager Bob Melvin said his rotation would stay on turn for the time being.

--CF Chris Young's sacrifice fly in the third inning Wednesday against Philadelphia was the team's fifth in the past four games and Arizona's major league-leading 19th of the season.


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