The Seattle Mariners had hoped to save Randy Johnson for Game 7 of the American League championship series with the Cleveland Indians--or Game 1 of the World Series--but needing a victory to prevent elimination, they will start their ace on three days' rest in Game 6 tonight.
"I've done it three times recently," Johnson said. "I've had to rise to the occasion. I don't consider us having our backs to the wall because our backs have been against the wall since the season started. No one projected us to be where we are."
Johnson started the division playoff with the Angels and Game 3 of the division series with the New York Yankees and pitched in relief in Game 5 of that series.
He also went eight innings, giving up only one earned run, in Seattle's 5-2 victory in Game 3 of the league championship series. That game gave the Mariners a 30-3 record in games the left-hander has pitched this season. He is 20-2 overall, including two playoff victories.
Johnson said he is still throwing 98 m.p.h. but is mixing up his pitches more and getting people out on heart and desire.
"Everybody relishes the opportunity to be out on the mound in a big game," he said. "I don't think anyone relishes the idea that if we lose the season is over for us, but I don't sense any pressure. I'll go out and do the best I can. We're not going to roll over and die."
The Mariners are 4-1 in postseason games at the Kingdome, but they return tonight with a .193 batting average for the five games against the Indians, having scored only 12 runs. Key slumps: Edgar Martinez, one for 20; Tino Martinez, three for 19; Vince Coleman, one for 16; Dan Wilson, 0 for 14; Mike Blowers, three for 15; Joey Cora, four for 19.
Edgar Martinez won the American League batting title and batted .571 in the five-game series with the Yankees.
"This is just not the right time to have a slump of this type," he said.
Said Manager Lou Piniella: "Edgar is going to hit. Remember, he didn't miss a game all season. He's been in there day in and day out. He may be a little tired, swinging at bad pitches, trying to force things. It seems like we've been crossing the country for the last two weeks, but you know what? He's had a day off and I'm predicting he's going to finish with a flourish."
Charles Nagy, who has given up only two earned runs in 15 innings of two playoff starts, will start Game 7 for the Indians, if the Mariners win tonight. Nagy has an 0-5 record in the Kingdome and an 0-9 overall record in domes.