Randy had his most effective outing of the spring yesterday as he struck out nine batters in six innings giving up no runs, no walks and four hits. His fastball topped out between 91-93 mph, but his slider was dynamite and became the out pitch against Cleveland.
I noticed him do something different with it also. He seemed to be able to change speeds at will-a sure sign that his mechanics are coming together. One slider almost looked like a change up that left the great Indian hitters flailing away. Of course, many of the lefties like Travis Hafner (# 5 in the MVP voting) were absent from the lineup, but that is what Johnson typically does to the opposition. David Ortiz has taken a seat against Randy and that's an added bonus when he pitches for the Yanks.
I'm sure as he gets closer to being ready for prime time his fastball will get back up to 95 mph, but as Roger Clemens has shown over the last couple of years, Randy doesn't need to blow people away with pure, heart stopping heat to be dominant. His location is the key to Johnson being a twenty game winner again and yesterday showed us that that is a possibilty again. At 6-10, his surly scowl is still enough to keep most hitters on their heels as long as he doesn't throw pitchs right down the pipe with little movement. Yesterday, he had the scowl and the movement.