Unit earns redemption in relief stint
Left-hander hurls 4 1/3 scoreless innings against Angels
ANAHEIM -- Randy Johnson got shelled last Friday in his first postseason start with the Yankees, and he knows that the 4 1/3 strong innings he threw out of the bullpen on two days of rest Monday won't make anyone forget that.
He doesn't much care, either. As he pointedly reminded in the aftermath of New York's 5-3 loss to the Angels in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, this wasn't about him.
"Redemption? No, I wasn't thinking about redemption at all," he said after taking over for Mike Mussina in the bottom of the third inning and keeping the Halos scoreless through the seventh. "At least not on a personal level. I've never talked about individual stuff my whole career. Baseball is about team, and I didn't do my job for the team a couple of days ago. That I did it tonight, obviously I'm pleased with that. But not for myself.
"The team needed me to give it a chance to win, to keep the game close. I did my job tonight."
Mussina expected nothing less. The Yankees made it clear before Game 5 that everyone on the pitching staff, with the exception of Game 4 winner Shawn Chacon, would be available in relief.
"I didn't expect to see him so early because I expected to be in the game a lot longer," said Mussina, who left with two on and two out in the third. "But when Randy gets the ball, you expect good things to happen."
Not much went well for Johnson on Friday, when he gave up five runs on nine hits in three-plus innings. His command was poor, and it was suggested over the weekend that he might have been tipping his pitches.
Johnson didn't want to talk about the possibility that the Angels knew what was coming Friday, but he sounded pretty sure that they didn't have any such luxury Monday.
"Obviously I felt a lot more comfortable tonight," he said, "and it felt like they weren't as comfortable."
"His location was unbelievable," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. "I didn't catch him [Friday], but I could tell he was more like himself tonight."
"Randy came back today with a brilliant performance," said third baseman Alex Rodriguez. "He was a warrior tonight."
A warrior in control of his stuff. That, Johnson said, was the key.
"I don't worry about velocity or how good my stuff is or anything like that," he explained. "You can throw as hard as you want, but if you're not putting it where you want to put it, you're in trouble. I worry about results, and when my mechanics are good, the results are usually pretty good."
This was not the ending Johnson or the Yankees had hoped for when they made him their marquee offseason acquisition. He was supposed to be one of the leading men as the Bombers returned to glory. And while the team fell short of the ultimate goal, Johnson was able to look at the season as a whole in a fairly positive light.
"It's not as easy as just getting players and saying, 'Go win,' " he said. "You still need some things to go your way, like staying healthy. Unfortunately, we got hit by quite a few injuries, but when it was all said and done, we did win the [American League] East. And because of those injuries, we got to see people like [Shawn] Chacon and [Robinson] Cano step in and come up big.
"I think there's a lot of good things that happened this year, and I think there's a lot more where that came from. This being my first year here, I'm still trying to figure out how everything works, but I feel good about next season already."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.