Randy Johnson was not overpowering yesterday, but he delivered his best performance in pinstripes as the Yanks bombed the Rangers and cruised to a tension–free 11-1 victory. Johnson’s fastball still isn’t blazing in the mid-to-high nineties, but he was still effective. The Rangers were impressed. Tyler Kepner reports in the Times:
“He was a lot different than what I’ve seen in the past and what I’ve experienced with him,” said Rangers catcher Rod Barajas, who caught Johnson with the Arizona Diamondbacks and went 0 for 3 yesterday.
“It’s not what we expected. We expected Randy Johnson to be throwing inside – hard four-seamers and sliders. He kept us off-balance. He hit both sides of the plate, and that’s not how you really know Randy Johnson. He was sinking the ball away and getting some weak ground balls. He did a great job of making adjustments.”
Third baseman Mark DeRosa added:
“It was like seeing a totally new guy out there,” DeRosa said. “He was throwing sinkers away and sliders away, where last year he would just be coming right in at 96, 98. But he still dominated.”
Derek Jeter (three hits including a solo homer) and rookie Andy Phillips (double, three-run dinger) led the offense. Jeter was one of several Yankees who spoke in a brief, players-only meeting before the game. Jeter would not comment about what was said, but Bill Madden hit the nail on the head:
The circumstances demanded a meeting, but as Lou Piniella was fond of pointing out during his tenure in Seattle as manager of the Mariners: “If you’re going to call a team meeting, it’s always best to make sure it’s the day before the Big Unit is pitching.”
Done and done.