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Drama? It's just a game


Drama? It's just a game
Ballplayers always tell you they have no time to wallow in drama and side stories when they're busy playing Baseball.

Randy Johnson shooting for a no-hitter Sunday against the Diamondbacks ? His teammates were aware, sure, but in a back-burner kind of way.

Johnson, who gave up zero hits through six innings and got his first win as a Giant, said no-hitter thoughts were not allowed to creep into his consciousness.

"I can't emphasize enough, I just want to win," Johnson said. "All that other stuff is just bonuses."

Brian Wilson, who closed out the 2-0 win by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth, said he wasn't thinking about saving career win No. 296 for a 45-year-old legend who had come up empty and looked vulnerable his first two starts.

But just about everyone in the park not wearing a Baseball uniform was caught up in the high-noon drama.

You had Johnson - who last time out got blasted by the Dodgers and was pitching against the team that recently rejected him after he won four Cy Young trophies - trying to keep his career alive, backed by an offense as unimposing as any in Baseball.

Through six innings, the Big Unit allowed no hits and faced 18 batters - his two walks were erased by a double play and a pickoff.

The Giants, who squeeze out runs like they are squeezing toothpaste from a crusted-over tube, gave Johnson a 1-0 lead in the fourth. There's your cushion, Unit. It was tense.

But if you listen to the players, they'll suck the drama out of any great moment.

"You play the game like you always play the game," said right fielder Randy Winn, the team's consummate pro, who stole a triple from Eric Byrnes in the first inning. "You get in trouble when you change and play for individual goals."

The only guy who came close to betraying the ballplayers' code was Rich Aurilia, who said of Johnson, "He even had the scowl going after strikeouts, which I haven't seen this year. That was nice to see. I'm sure he had a little added incentive today."

Johnson pitched eight seasons for the Arizonans. He wanted to come back with them and offered to take a cut to $6 million. The D'backs offered him $2.5 million. The Giants gave Johnson $8 million.

So if some form of revenge wasn't on his mind Sunday, Johnson at least went to work with the inner burner turned to "high."

He was 11-10 last season for the Diamondbacks , not a great team, and he's a year more ancient, and backed by a team that doesn't hit much and doesn't always field up a storm though it did Sunday.

So after he started 0-2 and got tagged by the Dodgers, some observers had to be wondering: Will the Unit ever get his 300?

Johnson himself indicated that if anything was on his mind Sunday, it wasn't no-hitter as much as it was bouncing back from his previous start.

"You can imagine how I felt when I gave up seven runs to L.A.," he said, adding, "I just wanted to rebound from the game I pitched in L.A."

So however you slice it, sure, there was drama lurking Sunday, even for stone-cold-stoic Randy Johnson.

After giving up a seventh-inning leadoff double to Augie Ojeda, Johnson got three outs in a row, then took a shower, even though he had thrown only 73 pitches and seemed fresh.

"Seven innings, in that heat, at this point in his career, that's far enough," manager Bruce Bochy said.

Johnson is far too diplomatic and mannerly to second-guess his skipper. Bochy said he would have left the decision up to Johnson had the Diamondbacks been hitless through seven.

After about four innings, Johnson's teammates started actively ignoring him in the dugout at his end-of-the-bench perch. Did he notice them staying away?

"I think they ignore me, anyway," Johnson said.

Actually, they don't. The Giants are well aware they are in the presence of Baseball royalty. How would you like to be Wilson had he blown the save Sunday and had to tell Unit, "Sorry, dude"?

"It's amazing to watch him work hitters, work the count, throw sliders whenever he wants," Wilson said. "It's pretty amazing. Not all of us can do that."

Catcher Bengie Molina said with a smile, "I think he's going to be OK, man."

To sum up Sunday: Win No. 296 for Big Unit, near no-no, huge win for the spiritually struggling Giants, a ray of hope for the team and its No. 2 starter, and a lot of drama. Other than that, just a routine ballgame.

1 of 296 Randy Johnson picked up his first win against Arizona in his first career appearance against the on Sunday. Here is a list of the teams against which he has the most victories: Milwaukee Brewers Colorado Rockies Los Angeles Angels Texas Rangers Boston Red Sox San Diego Padres Kansas City Royals Toronto Blue Jays


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 20, 2009

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