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Johnson surpassed 4,500 strikeouts in his career on Monday in the New York Yankees 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. The win was his 276th of his career.
Johnson has given up at least one home run in six straight starts, the longest streak of his career within one season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He yielded a homer in six consecutive starts for Seattle spanning the 1989 and 1990 seasons. Johnson lasted only 3 1-3 innings Saturday and his ERA climbed to 5.07.
Johnson allowed three earned runs and seven hits over 7 2-3 innings in Thursday's 10-4 win over the Indians for his 10th victory of the season and 237rd of his career. The Yankees' left-hander moved into a tie for 30th place on the all-time win list with Red Ruffing. Johnson, a five-time Cy Young Award winner, walked none and struck out five in the victory.
Johnson was suspended five games Thursday by the MLB Commissioner's Office for intentionally throwing at Cleveland Indians' first baseman Eduardo Perez in Wednesday's 6-1 win by the New York Yankees. Johnson threw way inside to Perez in the seventh one inning after Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was hit by a pitch. Yankees manager Joe Torre was also suspended one game.
Johnson's home run to Oakland's Mark Kotsay on Sunday was the first the New York Yankee pitcher has given up to a left-handed hitter in 36 regular-season starts.
Yankees manager Joe Torre announced Johnson would be his Opening Day starter when New York begins the season April 3 at Oakland. It will be Johnson's 14th Opening Day start. He will become the leader in working openers, surpassing Roger Clemens, who has worked 13 in his career.
Johnson limited Baltimore to three hits over eight innings and came away with a 2-1 victory that put the Yankees in first place in the American League East. The Big Unit's fourth straight victory put New York in first for the first time since July 19.
On Sunday, Johnson enjoyed one of his more dominating performances. The Yankees' southpaw limited the Boston Red Sox to one hit and a pair of walks over seven innings, as New York claimed the rubber game of the three-game set, 1-0. Calling on a fastball that touched 99 MPH, Johnson fanned eight and made Jason Giambi's first-inning home run stand up.
Johnson, who was scratched from his start on Thursday with an inflamed lumbar spine, may not be slotted into the rotation when his next turn comes up on Tuesday against the Devil Rays. It's more likely that Johnson will work on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, or possibly next Friday in Chicago against the White Sox.
Johnson definitely is out as the Yankees' starter on Thursday against Texas. Righthanders Scott Proctor and Jorge De Paula, who is 3-2 with a 5.00 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A Columbus, are the leading candidates to face the Rangers.
Johnson's next start for the New York Yankees is up in the air after the ace lefthander suffered back spasms during his Saturday outing against Toronto. In the fourth inning, Johnson started having back spasms while covering first base on a play in the infield, and he left New York's 8-5 loss in the fifth.
Johnson turned in a vintage performance against the Minnesota Twins Tuesday night, twirling eight innings of two-hit shutout ball and striking out 11 while walking none in a 4-0 victory. He took a no-hitter two outs into the sixth until Juan Castro singled to break it up.
Johnson enjoyed a solid six innings against the Angels on Thursday night, but left with a 3-2 lead after he tweaked his back on the mound. Yankees manager Joe Torre said Johnson seemed to be favoring his back and he didn't want to take any chances with his ace. The injury doesn't appear to be serious, and the 41-year-old lefthander isn't expected to miss his next start.
Johnson got into some trouble with one of his worst outings in years, but he did not figure into the decision, as the Yankees came back to defeat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 20-11 on Tuesday. The veteran lefthander lasted just three innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits -- including three home runs -- prior to his departure. He struck out three and walked one.
Johnson worked six innings without striking out a batter Sunday, though he earned the "W" in New York's 6-4 victory over Oakland. It was the first time since April 1989 that Johnson hasn't recorded a strikeout in an outing.
Yesterday's outing is a reminder that Johnson isn't piling up the strikeouts in 2005 as he has in years past. While his 50 strikeouts rank second only to Minnesota's Johan Santana in the American League, they have been recorded in 57.1 innings. You have to go back to 1990 to find a season in which the Big Unit didn't average a strikeout an inning over a full season.
With Johnson making his first start since April 29 -- and claiming a 4-3 win -- the Yankees have won three games in a row for the first time all season. The Big Unit worked eight innings in defeating Seattle, allowing seven hits and three earned runs while fanning seven. He upped his record to 3-2 in seven starts, with a 3.68 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 51.1 innings.
With Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown and Johnson turning in three consecutive quality starts, including Mussina's four-hit shutout of Oakland on Saturday, perhaps the Yankees are poised to execute a turnaround.
As anticipated, Johnson will miss his Wednesday start against Tampa Bay after tweaking a groin muscle in his last outing. The move was a precautionary one by the Yankees. The lefthander felt he was ready to pitch and showed he was displeased with the decision in a couple of brusk exchanges with reporters Tuesday.
Pitching prospect Sean Henn has been recalled from Double-A Trenton to make Wednesday's start. He will face the Rays' Hideki Nomo. Wednesday represents a lost opportunity to inch closer to 300 wins for the 41-year-old Johnson, who stands at 248-130 for his career. He should step back into his regular turn on Monday night against Seattle in Yankee Stadium.
In his complete-game loss to Toronto Friday, Johnson tweaked a groin and will miss his Wednesday start against Tampa Bay as a precaution. It's possible that the Yankees' lefthander will go on the 15-day disabled list with the injury. Johnson is 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in six starts this season.
It appears lefthander Sean Henn will be recalled from Double-A Trenton to make that Wednesday start against the Rays.
On Sunday, in an 11-1 Yankees romp over Texas, Johnson turned in his first quality start since Opening Day, and also picked up his first "W" since beating Boston in the opener. Against the Rangers, the Big Unit worked eight innings, allowing three hits and a walk while fanning seven.
For the year in five starts, Johnson is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA and .211 opponent batting average. He has fanned 34 in 34.1 innings and walked six.
After looking impressive in his Opening Day win against the Red Sox, Johnson has looked less than stellar in three subsequent outings for the New York Yankees. On Tuesday, Eduardo Perez homered twice off Johnson as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays snapped their 11-game road losing streak against New York with a decisive 6-2 win. The lefthander has allowed at least five runs in each of his last three outings, and he's coughed up five home runs in his last two times out.
There's probably no reason to worry about Johnson, who now is 1-1 with a 5.13 ERA in four starts for the Yankees.