After showing signs of improvement in his three previous starts (18 1/3 IP, 14 H, 9 R, 3 HR, 8 BB, 20 K, 1.20 WHIP, 4.42 ERA, 2-0), Randy Johnson spit the bit in his last outing against a weak-hitting Oakland A's team. With that start--which included the first homers of the year for Bobby Kielty and Antonio Perez (the latter of whom remains 1 for 31 off the rest of the league this year)--my hopes of Johnson finding his old form this season have been crushed like yet another hanging slider. To make matters worse, the Indians are the current employer of Mr. Eduardo Perez, the lefty-killer who brutalized Johnson while with the Devil Rays last year. Perez has faced the Unit more than any other Indian over the course of his career and is hitting .296/.387/.778 against him with four dingers in 31 plate appearances. Run and hide, Yankee fans. Run and hide.
On the flip side, facing the Tribe's big Johnson, the 6'6" Jason, could be just what the doctor ordered for Alex Rodriguez, who is 9 for 20 with a trio of taters against the former Oriole and Tiger. Jason's been every bit as bad as Randy this year, but unlike with the 42-year-old in pinstripes, there are reasons to be optimistic about the 32-year-old with Chief Wahoo on his cap. Again, the hope lies in a trio of starts. In Jason's last three outings he's done this:
Okay, so that's not great, but it's a whole heckuva lot better than his overall 5.71 ERA and a damn sight better than his 9.13 mark from May. Hey, maybe the grass is greener on the other Johnson, but the combination of Jason's relative youth, his suddenly extreme ground ball tendencies, and the fact that the one guy in the Yankee line-up who owns him is all kinds of mixed up at the plate right now (thanks in part to the mooks who have been booing him of late) makes me more willing to believe that Jason Michael (not to be confused with left fielder Jason Michaels) is going to right his ship tonight than that Randall David is.
Either way, there will be more than one run scored tonight, I can guarantee that. And I'll be there to see the bloodletting. Last year I wrote about taking my 67-year-old boss to his first Yankee game (which just happened to be the game after Alex Rodriguez smacked three dingers off Bartolo Colon). Tonight the same crew will be taking the now-retired Ray to his second game at the big ballpark in the Bronx. Here's hoping we won't be wishing we were at last night's 1-0 gem. Hey, at least the weather is better. Uh, it will be better, won't it?