The Brewers are realistic. Nomo is 30 years old and has thrown a lot of innings. (He threw 140 or more pitches in 61 of his starts during his five-year Japanese League career.) He will probably never again throw especially hard. That said, on a team suffering from a 5.19 ERA (third worst in the league), he has been the perfect balm. "I don't think anyone knows how much he has in his arm," says Campbell. "I guess there's a chance it won't last. But there's also a chance he's on his way back to the old Hideo Nomo—but this time in Milwaukee."
Randy Johnson's Hard Luck
Little Support For Big Unit
Has there ever been a pitcher who threw as well as the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson did in his last three starts and lost all three games? Over that span Johnson pitched three complete games, tied the major league three-game strikeout record (43) set by the Mets' Dwight Gooden in 1984 and allowed only four runs. He also received a combined three hits and no runs in offensive support from a team that averages 5.6 runs a game, second best in the National League.
Johnson's hard-luck stretch began on June 25, when Cardinals rookie Jose Jimenez no-hit Arizona. In that game Johnson struck out 14 and allowed five hits but lost 1-0. In the Big Unit's next start, against the Reds, journeyman Ron Villone shut out the Diamondbacks 2-0 on one hit; Johnson fanned 17 and gave up seven hits. Then, on Monday, Jimenez again victimized Arizona, throwing a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win. Johnson permitted four hits while racking up 12 K's.
Said the Big Unit, moments before storming away from the press following Monday's defeat, "There's no satisfaction in getting strikeouts. That's all I have to say."
Gary Gaetti's Decision
The Biological Clock Is Ticking
Slumped in front of his locker in the Cubs' clubhouse, Gary Gaetti looks as old as he seems to be feeling. His hair, once thick and brown, is now thinning. Mini folds of flab spill from his sides. Mostly, it is Gaetti's expression of late—the resigned grimace of a man past his prime, of a man ready to call it a career.
Although he has yet to make up his mind, Gaetti, 40, is increasingly disenchanted with his role on the Cubs. The two-time All-Star, who hit 19 home runs last year, is more and more often stuck on the bench, watching the platoon of Manny Alexander and Tyler Houston eat up much of the playing time at third base. In 162 at bats, Gaetti is hitting .185 with six homers and 24 RBIs. "There are a lot of things in baseball I enjoy," he says. "But the struggles make it less enjoyable. I'm used to being productive. When I'm not, it hurts. Retirement has been crossing my mind. Maybe if s time to think about it."
Gaetti needs 43 home runs to reach 400 but says that milestone is out of reach. His bat, admittedly, has slowed. Last Thursday, in a 19-12 loss to Milwaukee, manager Jim Riggleman had Gaetti warming up in the bullpen, and then used him two days later to mop up the final inning of a 21-8 hammering by the Phillies. It seems as if Riggleman has little other practical use for the vet these days. "I told him, 'Just let me know what you decide,' " Riggleman says. "It's a huge decision." Gaetti goes back and forth—stick it out or hang 'em up. "What I'd really like is at least one more hot streak," he says. "Just to enjoy it again."
As the clock ticks away, that seems more and more unlikely.