The Big Unit made short work of the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at the Stadium as the Yankees cruised to a 6-1 win through the raindrops in the Bronx. Johnson allowed five hits, including a solo home run by Michael Restovich, but the Pirates were never really in the game. Johnson began the game by striking out the first two batters on six pitches. He ended the game by mowing down Daryl Ward for his eleventh K of the night. The Big Unit’s slider has far more bite to it than it did earlier in the year–Jose Castillo swung through one that actually hit him on the right thigh in third inning. Johnson was in a foul, competitive mood all evening, growling over pitches that weren’t called strikes, cursing at himself when the Pirates hit the ball hard. He was dominant: 86 of the 110 pitches he threw were strikes.
His counterpart Oliver Perez wasn’t nearly as sharp. I’ve read about Perez’s involved delivery, and he seems to have body parts moving every which way. (His motion is almost as complicated and intricate as his facial hair.) During the early innings he was too hyper, bouncing off the mound after several pitches as if he had a hot foot. Perez is dynamic and he’s clearly got very good stuff, but his location was off, and the Yankees scored all six runs in the first four innings. Hideki Matsui cranked a two-run bomb halfway up the right-center field bleachers in the first, Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano had RBI hits in the second, and Gary Sheffield had an excuse-me, bases loaded double in the fourth. That was all the Yankees would need, as Johnson polished off the Pirates in two hours and nineteen minutes.
Done and done.