The 13 strikeouts were more or less routine. What made Randy Johnson’s performance extraordinary was the number of walks.
“No walks? Man, not since Little League for me,” Johnson said after Seattle’s 5-3 victory over Cleveland on Friday night. “I figure if you put guys on and then their big guns follow with a hit, that’s what I have to worry about here. That’s how big innings start.”
For the first time in his career, the Seattle left-hander pitched a complete game without walking a batter. It was the third time this year and the seventh time in his career that Johnson (9-1) avoided walking a batter in a start. He has led the league in walks three times.
Johnson got his third complete game, throwing a season-high 160 pitches along the way. He gave up eight hits and increased his major league-leading strikeout total to 152 while stopping Seattle’s four-game losing streak.
He’s reached double figures in strikeouts eight times this year.
“He keeps everybody off stride because he throws so hard and he’s got a dynamite breaking ball,” Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said. “He’s so tall (6-foot-10), he looks like he’s just reaching out and handing you the ball.
“I thought he threw a lot of pitches. The last time I saw a pitcher throw 160 pitches, it was Roger Clemens three or four years ago, and he went on the DL right after that. I do not mean that as a criticism of anybody. Lou Piniella’s a good manager.”
Piniella said he let Johnson stay in the game because the All-Star break is coming up - although Johnson is a member of the A.L. squad.
“Now he doesn’t pitch until the All-Star Game, and then we’ll slip him into the end of the rotation when we get back, so he’ll have plenty of rest,” Piniella said.
Six of Johnson’s victories this year have stopped Seattle losing streaks. The Mariners are 14-2 when he starts, 19-32 when anyone else starts. Cleveland lost for only the third time in its last 12 games.
The Mariners opened the game with four hits off Mark Clark (4-3), and took a 2-0 lead on Edgar Martinez’s home run, his 14th, after leadoff batter Rich Amaral was caught stealing.
The two RBIs gave Martinez 55 on the year, breaking a tie with teammate Tino Martinez for third in the A.L.
Seattle finished Clark with three more in the fifth on a two-run double by Jay Buhner - scoring Edgar Martinez, who had walked, and Tino Martinez, who singled - and Mike Blowers’ RBI single.
Clark, who gave up only one earned run in two previous starts since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo, allowed five runs and nine hits in 4.
Cleveland scored twice in the first, helped by Blowers’ error at third. Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel singled, and Lofton scored when Blowers mishandled Carlos Baerga’s grounder. Vizquel and Baerga advanced on a double steal before Manny Ramirez drove in Vizquel.
Orel Hershiser, who came off the disabled list before the game, will pitch for the Indians on Sunday, taking Bud Black’s turn. Black was demoted to the bullpen. … Seattle runners have stolen third base 17 times in 18 attempts. … Jacobs Field sold out for the 14th straight time.
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