Tag:Randy Johnson
Posted on: March 3, 2011 4:12 pm

On Felix, Randy and the Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Randy Johnson showed up in Mariners camp Thursday, a reminder that Felix Hernandez isn't yet the most accomplished pitcher to wear a Mariner uniform.

And a reminder that the Mariners don't always hold onto their most dominating pitchers.

But this isn't 1998, Hernandez isn't 34 years old, and for the moment I tend to believe the Mariners when they say they wouldn't even consider trading him this year.

"I can't prevent people from calling," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "But Felix is going to be a Mariner."

What does Felix think of that?

"Good, man," Hernandez said. "I love to be here."

The American League Cy Young winner seemed relaxed and happy Thursday, after throwing a two-inning simulated game in his first appearance of the spring. The Mariners hold Hernandez out of early Cactus League games, hoping that keeping him on the back fields will lower the intensity and perhaps reduce the wear and tear on his valuable right arm.

Even on the back field, Hernandez said, "The adrenaline's going, and you want to strike out everybody."

He struck out a few, as usual. At age 24 (he turns 25 in April), Hernandez already has 1,042 career strikeouts. He's 3,833 strikeouts behind Johnson, which Johnson didn't mind pointing out to him.

"He told me I need four more Cy Youngs and 4,000 strikeouts," Hernandez said. "I said, 'I'll be there, don't worry.'"

Will he get there in a Mariners' uniform? It's far too early to say that. The M's didn't trade Johnson until three years after he won his first Cy (his only one for Seattle), and not until he was 34 years old.


Two more thoughts on Felix and Randy:

-- I'd never want to judge anyone on a spring training game, let alone on a simulated game on a back field. But besides looking relaxed and sounding happy, Felix looks strong.

"I'm feeling so good," he said.

Hernandez said he wants to improve on his outstanding 2010 season.

"I think I can get better," he said. "Why not? This year, I'm trying to not let anyone score any runs in the first inning."

Hernandez allowed 15 runs in 34 first innings last year. While that may not sound like much, it's the most runs he allowed in any inning.

-- Watching Randy and Felix together, here's what I was wondering: If you take the two best pitchers in any franchise's history, where would the Mariners rank? In other words, Randy and Felix vs. any two pitchers any other franchise has had.

Posted on: August 30, 2010 10:52 pm

Eight runs later, Cahill's candidacy takes a hit

NEW YORK -- The year Chris Carpenter won the Cy Young Award with the Cardinals, he gave up eight runs in one game. And nine runs in another game.

Randy Johnson gave up nine runs in a game in 2001, and won the Cy Young.

So why is Trevor Cahill basically out of the Cy Young discussion after giving up eight runs to the Yankees on Monday night?

Simply because it was so hard for Cahill to get into the Cy Young discussion in the first place.

Cahill had plenty going against him, even when he was second in the American League in ERA, as he was before Monday's pounding. He's not a favorite of the stat guys, because he doesn't get many strikeouts (he ranked 44th in the AL going into Monday) and because they believe his .215 batting average on balls in play (into Monday) indicates that he's been "lucky."

I think it doesn't matter if you're lucky or unlucky, because the Cy Young is based on pitching success, not on predicting future success. It's about winning games and preventing runs, and Cahill, 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA before Monday, was doing a good job at both.

Since May 5, when he got his injury-delayed first win of the season, Cahill was tied with CC Sabathia for the most wins in the majors, with 14. He had a 1.63 ERA since the All-Star break and a 0.92 ERA in August, and he was averaging eight innings a start this month.

He was starting to look like a Cy Young candidate. And now he doesn't.

After one bad start?

Yes, even though Cliff Lee also had a recent start where he allowed eight runs (to Baltimore). Yes, even though Felix Hernandez has twice allowed seven earned runs this year.

Cahill couldn't afford this bad start, because despite making the All-Star team this year, he's a relative unknown ("He's young, and he plays for Oakland," teammate Mark Ellis explained).

He couldn't afford this bad start, because it helps feed the idea that Cahill's great stats have been helped by pitching in the hitting-poor AL West (although he doesn't get to pitch against the awful A's lineup).

Think of it this way: If you had a Cy Young vote and had to decide between Cahill and Hernandez, would it matter to you that in two starts against the Yankees, Cahill allowed 14 runs in 10 innings, while in three starts against New York, Hernandez allowed one run in 26 innings?

Maybe it wouldn't. Maybe Cahill won't allow another run the rest of the season, will go on to win the AL ERA crown and will convince us he deserves the Cy Young.

"He's been as good as anyone in the league," Ellis said.

He's had an outstanding season. Before Monday night, it was an outstanding season that brought him into the Cy Young debate.

Then he had his worst start of the year, one that led him to say, "I was just embarrassed to get hit around like that."

Someone then asked Cahill about the first-inning ball that ripped a hole in Ellis' glove at second base.

"Any time the other team is hitting balls breaking guys' gloves, that's not a good sign," Cahill said.

He's a good pitcher, and he seems like a good kid.

He's still having an outstanding season. Just not an outstanding Cy Young season.
Posted on: June 11, 2010 10:29 am
Edited on: June 11, 2010 12:10 pm

3 to watch: The 2 days till Strasburg II edition

Until further notice, every Stephen Strasburg start is going to be worth watching. Thus, until further notice, every Stephen Strasburg start will be part of 3 to watch.

Strasburg II will be Sunday, and while there may have been a more-anticipated debut-plus-one, we can't remember one.

So who made the best second start ever?

A few candidates, with the help of baseball-reference.com's play finder :

-- Clay Buchholz, Sept. 1, 2007, for the Red Sox, against the Orioles. He threw a no-hitter. We really don't need any more candidates, do we?

-- Wilson Alvarez, Aug. 11, 1991, for the White Sox, against the Orioles. He threw a no-hitter, too. So there can be a debate, after all. Or maybe this just means we need to make plans for Strasburg's first start against the Orioles.
-- Burt Hooton, Sept. 15, 1971, for the Cubs, against the Mets. He was knocked out of the game by the Cardinals in the fourth inning of his debut, but Hooton rebounded with a complete game three-hitter, with 15 strikeouts.

-- Dick Selma, Sept. 12, 1965, for the Mets, against the Braves. A four-hit, 10-inning shutout for a 1-0 win, with 13 strikeouts. But only 13,500 turned up at Shea Stadium to see it, so it must not have been the most-anticipated Game 2 (and only 5,981 turned up at Wrigley Field for his next start, so the 10-inning shutout must not have been big news nationwide).

-- Tim Fortugno, July 25, 1992, for the Angels, against the Tigers. I must have been at this game, and yet I have no memory of it. A three-hit shutout, with 12 strikeouts.

-- Randy Johnson, Sept. 20, 1988, for the Expos, against the Cubs. The first of his 212 double-digit strikeout games, a 9-1 complete-game win.

-- Jack Morris, July 31, 1977, for the Tigers, against the Rangers. Morris, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, pitched nine innings and allowed two runs. Bert Blyleven, who many believe belongs in the Hall of Fame, pitched nine innings and allowed two runs. Maybe if one or the other had gotten the win, it would be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Remember when Jake Peavy was supposed to be a Cub? Remember when the White Sox were supposed to be good? The White Sox aren't good, but at least Peavy gets a trip to the North Side, for White Sox at Cubs, Friday afternoon (2:20 EDT) at Wrigley Field .

2. Remember when Daisuke Matsuzaka last faced the Phillies? (Hint: It was only three weeks ago.) He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. The Phillies believed they were terribly unlucky that day, because they hit so many balls hard. We'll see, because they get another chance at Dice-K, in Phillies at Red Sox, Saturday afternoon (4:10 EDT) at Fenway Park .

3. Remember when nobody would have cared about a Nationals-Indians game? Now, it's big enough that TBS changed the schedule to show Nationals at Indians, Sunday afternoon (1:07 EDT) at Progressive Field . Any idea why? Must have something to do with the guy starting for the Nationals. Strasburg is one reason to watch this game. Catcher Carlos Santana, the Indians super-prospect who was called up Friday, is another.

Posted on: May 10, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2010 1:00 pm

Perfect oddities

Maybe it's just coincidence. Or maybe not.

Not only have the Rays been the victim in the last two perfect games thrown in the major leagues -- last year by Mark Buehrle, Sunday by Dallas Braden -- but both came in afternoon games on getaway day.

In fact, St. Petersburg Times beat writer Marc Topkin suggested something less than coincidence when he speculated in his game story that Sunday's performance might have had something to do with "having Saturday night off in San Francisco."

So you wonder, is that why five of the last nine perfect games thrown in the major leagues were on Sundays (in Oakland, New York (twice), Los Angeles and Texas) -- and that six of the last nine were in day games?

And you wonder, what is it about lefties? Five of the last six perfect games have been thrown by left-handers: Braden, Buehrle, Randy Johnson, David Wells and Kenny Rogers (with David Cone the lone righty in the group).

Maybe it's just coincidence. Or maybe not.

Two more thoughts on the perfect game:

Not surprisingly, the Rays had the best record (22-8) of any team to have a perfect game thrown against them. Only two teams that were victims of perfect games have gone made it to the postseason in the same year (excluding the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers, who had a perfect game thrown against them in the World Series). The two? The 2004 Braves (Randy Johnson), who lost in the first round of the playoffs, and the 1988 Dodgers (Tom Browning), who won the World Series.

And to echo what colleague Scott Miller wrote Sunday, what a great job by Comcast Sports Net California, and especially by announcers Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse. Instead of adhering to the silly notion that they might jinx history by doing their job and mentioning it, Kuiper and Fosse set the scene perfectly -- and in doing so, proved once again that announcers don't jinx no-hitters (or perfect games).

(And, on A's radio, Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo also told listeners that Braden was working on a perfect game.)

In fact, in the most famous perfect game call of all, Vin Scully began the ninth inning by saying right away that Sandy Koufax was pitching a perfect game. When Koufax got it by striking out Harvey Kuenn, Scully let the crowd reaction play for 38 seconds, then said, "On the scoreboard in right field it is 9:46 p.m. in the City of the Angels, Los Angeles, California."

Yes, it was a night game.

Posted on: February 12, 2010 11:53 am
Edited on: February 12, 2010 11:54 am

The no-doubt Hall of Famers

When the Hall of Fame ballot came out in December, I looked at it once, looked at it twice, looked at it again a week later.

There were good names on it (and some bad ones, too). But this was a year where the best candidates fit into the grey area, the debatable area, the area that leads to the great Hall of Fame arguments.

The area that Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine don't fit in. The area that Frank Thomas doesn't fit in.

The no-doubt area.

The only question we need to ask is when we can vote them in. And stick with us, because if you haven't been paying close attention, it gets a little tricky.

Glavine announced his retirement Thursday. Thomas announced his retirement today. But since neither of them played in the major leagues in 2009, they'll be eligible in 2014 (or in the December 2013 voting, if you prefer).

In other words, they'll be eligible the same year as Maddux, who announced his retirement more than a year ago. They'll be eligible a year earlier than Johnson, even though he announced his retirement a month before they did.

It's important, because these are guys who have credentials so obvious (and who, so far, aren't steroid-tainted) that they should be first-ballot Hall of Famers.

How can you argue with Glavine, who has the fourth-most wins of any left-hander all-time? How can you argue with Thomas, who for seven straight years finished in the Top 10 in American League MVP voting, winning it back-to-back in 1993 and '94?

Phil Rogers made the argument in the Chicago Tribune that Thomas was the best right-handed hitter in baseball from 1990-97. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but by any numbers you want to go by (traditional or sabermetric), Thomas was a great hitter. There were opposing pitchers who made fun of his "Big Hurt" nickname, but few who really wanted to face him.

The late Vern Plagenhoef, who covered the Tigers for many years and taught me more than anyone about this business, used to say that there should only be one vote on every Hall of Fame candidate -- yes or no, he's a Hall of Famer, or he's not. If they're Hall of Famers, they should stand out, and you shouldn't need multiple votes.

Frank Thomas stands out, just as Maddux, Johnson and Glavine stand out.

Those ballots, I could fill out today.

Posted on: June 4, 2009 11:46 pm

Dunn: 'He thought it was a strike'

WASHINGTON -- Adam Dunn is right. It's a little much to say that history turned on one strike-three call by Tim Timmons.

But it's also true that if not for that call, Randy Johnson would still have 299 wins -- for now. If not for that call, the fine people of Arizona would be eagerly anticipating Johnson's second try at a 300th win, Tuesday night in the ballpark he once called home.

Here's what happened: Eighth inning Thursday, Giants leading the Nationals, 2-1. Two out, bases loaded, Johnson in line for the win and Giants closer Brian Wilson on the mound facing Dunn, the Nats' cleanup hitter. Ball four means a tie game, and a no-decision for Johnson. Strike three means three outs to go for a 300th win.

The pitch sure looked low. Timmons called it a strike. Dunn appeared to disagree.

"Good pitch," he said later.

Seen a replay?

"Nope," Dunn said. "Don't need to. Good pitch."

Any chance that Timmons' call was influenced by the moment?

"C'mon," Dunn said. "Tim's not going to think that quick. He thought it was a strike. Therefore, it is a strike."

A strike that made history.

"If that goes down in history, then baseball needs a new history," Dunn said. "I'll give you this: If [Johnson] doesn't win another game in his career, I'll say it's historic. But I'm going to say he's going to win another game."

So are we. But we're also going to say Timmons' call -- and Dunn's strikeout -- are now part of 300-win history.
Posted on: June 4, 2009 4:42 pm

5:10 ET first pitch for attempt at 300

WASHINGTON -- The tarp is off the field, and the plan now is for tonight's Giants-Nationals game to start at 5:10 ET.

Randy Johnson is the Giants starter, in his first try at 300 wins.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 3, 2009 11:40 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 11:55 pm

300 raindrops (or maybe a few more)

WASHINGTON -- So now Randy Johnson goes for his 300th win on Thursday.

Weather permitting.

We all forgot to add that qualification earlier this week, when we told you that Randy Johnson would go for his 300th win Wednesday -- which, we now know, he didn't. We forgot the most basic of baseball rules, which is that when the field looks more suited for Michael Phelps than for Josh Phelps (or Ken Phelps), they don't play.

"The players would have been under water, and the fans here would have been wet and tired," said Giants president Larry Baer, in full agreement with the decision to postpone Wednesday's game -- and Johnson's first try at 300-win history. "For a game with a player going after a milestone, you want to have something more optimal."

It's still far from certain that Thursday will provide more optimal conditions, and Baer ("I don't have a Doppler doctorate") was making no such guarantees.

As of now, the plan is for Johnson to start a 4:35 p.m. Eastern time first game of a doubleheader Thursday, for his first try at 300. If Johnson doesn't get a win Thursday, his next start would now be on Tuesday in Arizona -- and wouldn't that be an appropriate spot for history.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, which we promised not to do. And anyway, The Weather Channel says the chance of rain in Washington at 4 p.m. Thursday is 70 percent. And a double-rainout Thursday would presumably push Johnson's next start to Friday night at Florida.

Not that we're about to believe any weather forecasts right now.

"It was supposed to stop raining an hour ago," Baer helpfully pointed out.

Around about 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Nationals said it was supposed to start raining soon, and continue raining for about an hour. Just before 10 p.m., Baer and Nationals president Stan Kasten had appeared in the Nationals Park press box, and at that point Kasten said they expected the rain to stop in 15 minutes.

"We're going to get this game in tonight," he said. "We're going to try."

A little less than an hour later, the decision was made that the field was unplayable.

Everyone seemed to agree with the decision, even though everyone seemed equally unhappy to have waited so long with no baseball being played (and no history being recorded).

"It's pretty bad out there [on the field]," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I wanted to get it in, but you don't want it to be a farce."

We can't tell you for sure what Johnson himself was thinking, but Bochy said his pitcher handled the delays fine. For the most part, anyway.

"I think it was finally starting to weigh on him at the end," Bochy said. "They made the right call, and he's all set to go tomorrow."

It was quite a day for the Giants, many of whom had a private tour of the White House Wednesday morning. While they enjoyed the tour, they never expected it to be the one highlight of the day.

"The sitting around and waiting was not cool," outfielder Randy Winn said. "The White House? That was fun."

He's right. Sitting around and waiting isn't fun. I should know that.

I should also know about rain-delayed history, because I was at Camden Yards the night Eddie Murray hit his 500th home run sometime right around midnight, in a game that began about two hours late because of rain.

For a while Wednesday, we were looking at the possibility of another midnight milestone, and looking back, we would have taken it. We would have said it was worth the wait.

Now, we're waiting until Thursday.

"Tomorrow," Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria said as he got ready to leave the ballpark. "Tomorrow is going to be a special day for him."

Weather (and baseball) permitting.
Category: MLB
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