Randy Johnson was cruising along for the first four innings yesterday afternoon, but he allowed three straight hits in the fifth, giving up a run in the process. He made it through the inning but after throwing only 87 pitches his day was over, sending a tremor through Yankeeland. The team announced that there was nothing physically wrong with Johnson but after the game it appeared that he had in fact experienced some discomfort out there. The Big Unit was his naturally defensive self when he spoke with reporters (if he is uncomfortable, you know he's going to make the press uncomfortable). Tyler Kepner reports in the Times:
Manager Joe Torre said that Ron Guidry, the pitching coach, told him Johnson was stiff during yesterday's game, although Torre said he did not know where. Johnson initially scolded reporters for getting the story wrong, but then admitted to some stiffness sort of.
"Just a little tired, stiffness in the shoulder, if you want to call it that," he said, adding a disclaimer that seemed to amuse him. "The right shoulder."
..."I don't need to go out there every time and pitch seven, eight innings because you might like it," he said. "I might like it, but I also realize that the innings and the pitches that are going to be mostly counted on from me are going to be late in the year.
"So as much as I want to get my arm where it needs to be that's what spring training is for there's a time and a place to go out there and throw innings and pitches."
The Yankee lead was cut to 4-2 when Tony Graffanino greeted Taynon Sturtze with a solo home run in the eighth, that was as close as KC would get. The Bombers scored five runs in the bottom of the frame--highlighted by home runs from Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon, and that was that. Final score: Yanks 9, Royals 3. Gary Sheffield also homered, Hideki Matsui and Derek Jeter both lengthened their hitting streaks and Bernie Williams collected three singles on the afternoon. After the sweep, the Yanks are back on the road this weekend, out to see their old pal Ruben Sierra and his new team, the Twins.