Randy Johnson earned his 300th career win on Thursday night against the Nationals.
In anticipation of the milestone, ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian penned a piece earlier in the day about what it’s like to hit against Randy Johnson that includes discussion of Davey Johnson’s strategy against Johnson and a comment from Brian Roberts about digging in against the Big Unit.
The most fitting tribute to the greatness of Randy Johnson came 12 years ago when Baltimore Orioles manager Davey Johnson benched his three best left-handed hitters, Rafael Palmeiro, B.J. Surhoff and Roberto Alomar (a switch-hitter, but an injury prevented him from batting right-handed) in the first and fourth games of the American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners.
“Raffy told me that he’d like to play against Randy,” Johnson said before Game 1 of his first baseman, who had hit 38 homers and driven in 110 runs that season. “But he told me that Randy could mess him up for two weeks. That was all I needed to hear.”
Brian Roberts, Orioles: He is 2-for-18 against Johnson. “He still throws fairly hard,” he said. “The toughest thing for me was thinking you were getting a heater in, then it’s a slider, and there’s not much time to figure out what’s coming … but I did get two hits off him.”
One voice is missing from Tim Kurkjian’s article: Jeff Reboulet.
O’s fans will remember that Reboulet had a unique ability to hit Johnson, as detailed in a 2008 Roar from 34 post.
Jeffrey Allen Reboulet (1997-1999): The defining aspect of Jeff Reboulet’s brief tenure with the Orioles was his curious ability to hit well against Randy Johnson. Reboulet, he of the 20 home runs in 12 Major League seasons, went deep against Johnson in Game 4 of the 1997 ALCS, a 3-1 O’s victory; it was his only hit in five plate appearances during that series. Reboulet faced Johnson 21 times more than any other pitcher during his career, batting .273 with an .811 OPS in 66 plate appearances. He had two career home runs off of Johnson, matching his highest total against any one pitcher (he also had two home runs off of Ricky Bones).