D-Backs' Johnson focused on strong stretch run - East Valley Tribune: Sports

D-Backs' Johnson focused on strong stretch run

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Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008 10:37 pm | Updated: 8:36 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Randy Johnson has won the Cy Young Award in each league, won strikeout titles in each league, pitched a no-hitter in each league and started the All-Star game for each league.

Through it all, there has seldom been anyone in his league.

Bordow: Do we truly appreciate Randy Johnson?

For all his individual achievements, however, Johnson’s focus has always been team, and it has never been more so than now, as he begins the stretch drive on what could be his final season in the major leagues.

He has not addressed his future. He will not. He doesn’t have to.

It is not relevant to the task at hand — raising and maintaining his performance level as the Diamondbacks push toward their second consecutive NL West title.

“It’s important for myself to have a real good second half,” Johnson said.

“We need the three, four and five guys (in the starting rotation) to pitch well in the second half. You just can’t count on your 1-2 guys all the time.

“We need to be accountable and do our thing.”

For Johnson, it is a major role reversal from his previous time in Arizona.

Johnson was the ace and Curt Schilling the close No. 2 in the D-Backs’ 2001 World Series year, and the championship that year can be placed at their feet.

It is Brandon Webb and Dan Haren leading the band now, with Johnson, Doug Davis, Micah Owings and Yusmeiro Petit in accompaniment.

“I’ve been on the other side with me and ‘Schill,’ ” Johnson said.

“I always realized how important it was for guys like Brian Anderson and Miguel Batista to do their thing, too.

“ ‘Webby’ and Danny pitched really well in the first half. It’s important for us to pick up the slack a little bit.”

Johnson has done his part, winning his last three starts, with two of his most impressive starts of the season.

He struck out 10 in a 3-2 victory over San Diego on July 6, giving up one run in 6 1/3 innings, before out-pitching the Cubs’ Rich Harden in a 2-0 victory on Monday.

Johnson gave up only two singles in seven innings, walking one and striking out four in his 291st career victory with likely 12 regular-season starts remaining.

He became the first pitcher in major league history with 2,000 strikeouts for two teams when he got Aramis Ramirez in the second inning Monday.

“That’s as good a stuff as I’ve seen in awhile,” manager Bob Melvin said.

“I feel like I’ve found my mechanics,” Johnson said.

Johnson believes in this Diamondbacks’ group, which has led the NL West or been tied for the division lead for 109 consecutive days but has not pulled away and has struggled to stay above .500 after a 20-8 April.

“I think we have a very good team. It’s just a matter of us stringing everything together again. This isn’t April. The pitchers have caught up to the hitters,” Johnson said.

“It’s going to be important to us to start playing well.”

Sharpening up for the stretch run

A look at Randy Johnson’s recent numbers compared to the first half of the season:

Time frame     Record  ERA    IP         H     R    ER   BB SO

First 15 starts   4-7       5.46   85 2/3  102  60  52  27  82

Last 3 starts      3-0      2.33   19 1/3   10    5     5   2    17

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