Wednesday, May 09, 2001
D'Backs 4, Reds 3
Johnson's 20 Ks leave Reds awestruck;
Graves' blown save: Aw, shucks
By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer
PHOENIX Randy Johnson ultimately regained control of the evening, though he had nothing to do with the eventful conclusion of the Arizona Diamondbacks' 4-3, 11-inning victory Tuesday over the Reds.
Said Johnson, This game should be put in a time capsule so the fans of the future can see what exciting baseball's all about.
COUNT 'EM: 20
Ruben Rivera gets the whiff.
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Barry Larkin 3 |
Alex Ochoa 3
Juan Castro 2
Pokey Reese 2
Chris Reitsma 2
Ruben Rivera 2
Donnie Sadler 2
Kelly Stinnett 2
Aaron Boone 1
Deion Sanders 1
This classic began with Johnson striking out 20 batters in nine innings - matching the all-time high - and walking none. He somehow allowed three hits and a fifth-inning run while throwing 92 strikes
in 124 pitches.
It seemed to reach its climax with Cincinnati scoring twice without a hit in the top of the 11th, when Alex Ochoa's bases-loaded sacrifice fly sent home not one, but two runs.
But then came the surprise ending, with Arizona retaliating for three runs in the bottom of the inning against relief ace Danny Graves, who's only human.
The Reds (16-16) came excruciatingly close to a victory that would have lifted them into a second-place tie in the National League Central Division. Instead, they fell to fifth place. But their clubhouse was hardly gloomy.
It was a great ballgame, Reds manager Bob Boone said. To me, it was exciting. That's one everybody will remember. That's one of those things when you're my age (53), you'll think back and say, "Boy, we played against Randy Johnson and had him.'
It was a lot of fun to be a part of something like that, said starter Chris Reitsma, who was less spectacular yet just as effective as Johnson in his eight-inning, one-run stint.
Johnson acknowledges cheers after his 20th strikeout
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The Reds seemed destined to have all the fun after breaking a 1-1 tie in the 11th.
Jason LaRue walked to lead off the inning against reliever Russ Springer, who fielded Sadler's subsequent sacrifice-bunt try and fired the ball past first base. LaRue moved to third base while Sadler went to second.
Springer walked Juan Castro to load the bases and was replaced by left-hander Troy Brohawn (1-1), who retired Michael Tucker on a called third strike.
But the Diamondbacks pulled even against Graves (1-1), who won Monday night's series opener and entered this game with a microscopic 0.52 ERA, on Mark Grace's two-run double. It followed singles by Jay Bell and Luis Gonzalez to open the inning and Reggie Sanders' bunt into a force play.
Up came Ochoa, who launched a deep fly that Steve Finley caught a step in front of the left-center field wall. LaRue scored easily while Sadler, perhaps the fastest Red, churned around third base as coach Ron Oester waved him home. Craig Counsell's relay from shortstop bounced away from catcher Damian Miller as Sadler slid in safely.
Johnson fans Juan Castro in the ninth for No. 20.
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After Graves walked pinch hitter David Delucci intentionally and Counsell unintentionally on four pitches to fill the bases with two outs, Matt Williams batted for Brohawn (1-1) and took a 3-2 pitch that dipped low and outside, forcing in Grace to end the game.
Graves said he
began the inning with decent stuff. I think my sinker was working better tonight than (Monday), he said. They were just very patient with it. With a veteran ballclub like that, if you're patient, you're going to get your pitch to hit.
As the inning wore on, he was plainly spent.
When I faced Counsell, I couldn't come close to throwing a strike, Graves said. I thought I was out of gas.
Johnson had a full tank all night.
Chris Reitsma gave up one run in eight innings.
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The only other pitchers to reach the 20-strikeout level were Roger Clemens (April 29, 1986 and Sept. 18, 1996 with Boston) and the Chicago Cubs' Kerry Wood (May 6, 1998). Washington's Tom Cheney struck out 21 in 16 innings on Sept. 12, 1962.
Johnson notched No. 20 with his 124th and final pitch, fanning Castro to end the ninth. He instantly flung his right arm toward the sky in exultation and doffed his purple cap for the adoring throng of 29,817.
Johnson hadn't struck out this many hitters since his most recent outing against the Reds a 2-0 loss June 30, 1999 at Cinergy Field, where he fanned 17.
Reds third baseman Aaron Boone, whose single broke up Johnson's perfect game with one out in the fifth inning, tried to describe facing the future Hall of Famer.
It's just so different from anyone else, Aaron Boone said. It's just so hard to differentiate his fastball and slider and be able to take pitches. It's so hard to lay off that slider.
Said Johnson, Steve Finley had the best perspective in center field. He said it was the best slider he had ever seen.
Ignoring the lineup composed exclusively of right-handed hitters that Bob Boone started in an attempt to neutralize Johnson's effectiveness, the left-hander shattered a nine-inning high for strikeouts by a Reds opponent.
The previous mark was 18, shared by the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 26, 1998 (Kerry Wood 16, Rod Beck two) and by the Houston Astros' Don Wilson on July 14, 1968 in the second game of a doubleheader.
The Los Angeles Dodgers struck out
22 Reds in a 19-inning game on Aug. 8, 1972 (Tommy John 13, Jim Brewer six, Ron Perranoski two, Pete Richert one).
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