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Will the Real Slim Randy, Please Stand Up!

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Tonight is a pivotal game for the 2006 Yankees and it all hinges on the 43 year arm (and back) of Randy Johnson. This is not the same Big Unit that shut down the Yanks in the 2001 Series or threw a perfect game a couple of years later. This Randy Johnson is one that hasn't quite come to grips with his diminished age and abilities. He's no longer the power pitcher he once was but he sometimes still thinks he is.

Ageless wonders like Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux never had Randy's overpowering stuff; instead relying on pitch selection, location, and movement throughout their careers. Randy finds and loses his mojo seemingly on alternate starts. When he's bad, he's incredibly bad. When he's good, he's one of the best there is. But with his recent back injury, his control and stuff seems more uncertain. His ERA shows he relies heavily on the Yankees offensive firepower, but with the pathetic showing of A-Rod, Sheffield, and Giambi the last two games and Cano's playoff vaction he may not have that safety blanket.

Luckily, The Big Unit matches up well against Detroit. This season he is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 12 K's in 14 innings against the Tigers. If he can avoid giving up the longball, Johnson will be in good shape. There are fewer pitchers in the League with as much post season success as Randy Johnson and he's matched up with one of the biggest choke artists in the league. I feel good about his chances with all the numbers and history in his favor. This is all assuming his back doesn't go out in Backache Boomer Wells fashion. Will we get the old Randy; the frightening sight upon the mound that sends batters back in the dugout confounded and K'd? Will we get the rubberneck Randy who gets whiplash watching his pitch depositied into the bleachers? Will we even get Randy at all? I'm hoping for the best. We need it.