Johnson stymies Royals for first win this month
BRONX, New York (Ticker) --
let his actions do the talking.
Johnson shrugged off criticism from club management to toss eight stellar innings and
hit a pair of two-run homers as the
New York Yankees
stayed hot at home with a 5-1 victory over the
Kansas City Royals
After giving up four home runs - all in one inning - in Sunday's 6-2 loss to the
Chicago White Sox
, Johnson (12-8) was called out by general manager Brian Cashman and manager
, both of whom admitted surprise at Johnson's struggles this year, most notably of late.
The 41-year-old lefthander shot back with a vintage effort, allowing just a run and four hits. He struck out six, without a walk and was hurt only by
's RBI single in the seventh.
"That was as good as I've seen him in the attack mode," Torre said. "Even after they scored the run, he settled in and continued to get people out. I don't want to say it was easy because it's never easy, but he looked like he tuned it up a bit."
Johnson was 0-2 with a 6.49 ERA in four starts since recording 11 strikeouts in eight scoreless frames against Minnesota on July 26. However, he remained in control at home, improving to 9-2 at Yankee Stadium, where he has not lost since April 29.
Johnson's routine in between starts doesn't normally include throwing off a mound in the bullpen. But he threw for 30 minutes off the bullpen mound this week and it resulted in him having consistent velocity and his trademark slider.
"I worked hard between my starts on my mechanics and I think the result of working hard on my mechanics included what happened in today's game," Johnson said. "My velocity was back to where I'd like to have it.
"I'll continue to work hard on it and if I pitch the way I did today that's the reason why. I believe having poor mechanics, or inconsistent mechanics, for most of the year - inconsistent velocity, inconsistent arm angles - bottom line is I've been inconsistent on the mound"
Johnson threw 78 of 104 pitches for strikes, including 10 in a row during the fifth inning. After his night ended,
finished up New York's eighth win in its last nine home games.
"He was throwing as hard at the end as he was at the beginning," Yankees catcher
said. "I think he feels good about what he did tonight."
(4-5) nearly matched Johnson in his fourth start of the year, taking a shutout into the sixth. With one out, he stopped a delivery to
after slipping off the rubber. After Wood composed himself, Rodriguez deposited the next pitch into the bleachers in deep center field for a 1-0 lead.
It was the Rodriguez's American League-leading 38th homer and the 27th all-time hit into the black seats in center during the regular season.
"I left the ball over the middle of the plate," said Wood, who helped Kansas City end its franchise-record 19-game losing streak Saturday in Oakland. "They hit bad pitches and they proved it today."
"He's such a strong guy that even when he misses the ball, he hits it out," Williams said of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is one of three players to hit three homers into those seats, joining
and Williams, who launched the first of his two blasts later in the frame. The veteran center fielder added another into the upper deck in right in the eighth to cap the scoring.
Williams' second shot was the 275th of his career and gave him 17 multi-homer efforts. It also continued a strong August for Williams, who has 17 RBI and a .353 (18-for-51) average in his last 14 games.
"I'm just taking advantage of the opportunity I got," Williams said. "I'm feeling really comfortable out there right now."
"This is the time of year Bernie's used to playing in," Torre said. "Bernie is motivated by the game situation. He just seems to perform well."
The win pushed the Yankees (71-56) 15 games over .500 for the first time this season. New York also remained tied with Cleveland and Oakland for the lead in the American League wild card race.
Wood gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, matching his longest outing this year. He walked three and did not have a strikeout as Kansas City lost for the ninth straight time at Yankee Stadium.
"Their big guy was pretty good tonight," Royals manager
said of Johnson. "Great stuff, pretty good location to go along with it. Facing a guy like that, you've got to take advantage of any situations you've got. We didn't get any tonight."