Before Randy Johnson came out to pitch the six inning, the YES cameras spotted his glove with a big wad of chewed bubble gum on it resting on the ledge of the dugout. I don’t know if he always does this, but it was notable because Johnson had a no-hitter through five. That gum looked nasty, but you don’t want to mess with a man’s routine, right? The Twins’ ninth-place hitter Juan Castro broke up the no-no with a two-out single in the sixth–I called it–but Johson was absolutely dominating tonight. His slider was sharp (even the ones that were out of the zone had a bite that his breaking pitches simply did not have earlier in the year) and the Twinkies looked as if they didn’t have a chance. Johnson pitched eight innings, throwing 97 pitches (71 went for strikes), and striking out 11. He allowed just two hits and didn’t walk a batter.
While the Big Unit worked quickly, the normally efficient Brad Radke was in-and-out of trouble against the Yankees. Radke entered the game with just ten bases on balls on the season, and he walked Jason Giambi twice (to be fair, the second pass came with a runner on second and just one out…Radke was pitching around Giambi as much as Giambi earned the walk). Still, he left the game after six trailing just 2-0. But in the seventh, the Yanks loaded the bases against Jess Crain, before Hideki Matsui singled home two runs off J.C. Romero as the Bombers cruised, 4-0 (Flash Gordon pitched a one-two-three ninth). Alex Rodriguez, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Matsui each had two hits apiece for New York.
It was a big win for the Yanks what with Al Leiter and Johan Santana pitching tomorrow. Kevin Brown was scratched from his Thursday afternoon start (Aaron Small will likely take his place) and he may not be available for a while. Carl Pavano won’t pitch Saturday either, so the Yanks really needed this game. (I think we can count on Cashman making a deal for another starter by the end of the weekend; according to the Post, the Yanks will sign Hideo Nomo after he clears waivers later today.) The Twins are not an impressive offensive team, but Johnson would have likely been rough for any squad to handle this evening as he turned in one of his best performances in pinstripes. Let’s hope he stays grouchy.