|Gunning for 299
Randy Johnson is back in Seattle this weekend. Announcer Dave Niehaus remembers:
"He probably has two signature games," Niehaus said. "The no-hitter against Detroit, and I can still see the Tigers catcher [Mike Heath] swing at a pitch over his head for the final out. And coming out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the '95 playoffs against the Yankees." Those memorable events figure to make it a warm welcome for the 6-foot-10 future Hall of Famer, who will be making the 595th start of his big league career -- and his fourth at Safeco Field.
The famously surly Johnson likewise reflects on his days in Seattle:
"That was pretty much where my whole foundation was," he said. "I pitched every fifth day. It was sink or swim. I had that opportunity. That's really kind of where everything came together for me. That's really where I learned how to pitch.
"Most people don't realize this, but in my first seven years in the Major Leagues, I played for teams that didn't even finish over .500. The point being, had that been a team that wasn't finishing below .500, I might not have had that opportunity to sink or swim," Johnson said.
I've been following Johnson's starts with one eye closed this year because it seems like he's just as likey to get shelled as he is to pitch well, and it's hard to watch a living legend stagger to the finish line. Luckily for Johnson, the Mariners lineup he's facing tonight is profoundly punchless, averaging 3.95 runs a game.
Of course the Giants are only averaging 3.90 runs a game, so maybe we shouldn't get our hopes up, huh?