A pair of aces has produced a winning hand so far for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
First was Curt Schilling. Then came Randy Johnson. Down with nary a peep went the New York Yankees.
Johnson fired a three-hit shutout Sunday night in Bank One Ballpark, leading the upstart Diamondbacks to a 4-0 victory and a two-games-to-none lead over the three-time defending champions in the World Series.
At age 38, Johnson's debut in Series play was sensational. He struck out 11, walked only one and pitched to just three batters over the minimum. The Yankees got one man as far as second base all night and only three outs were made in the outfield.
The game ended on Johnson's 110th pitch, Derek Jeter's line drive to Craig Counsell at second. Just behind the mound, Johnson thrust both arms in the air in celebration as the crowd of 49,646 went wild and waved white towels over their heads.
"This is what every player in that clubhouse has waited for," Johnson said. "This is everybody's dream to be here. And to be playing the Yankees, it's the biggest stage in sports."
It was the first complete-game shutout in Series play since Schilling, Arizona's ace, tossed a five-hitter for Philadelphia to beat Toronto, 2-0, in Game Five of the 1993 Series. It was the first three-hit shutout since Orel Hershiser blanked Oakland for the Dodgers in 1988.
Schilling pitched seven innings of three-hit ball in Saturday's 9-1 Arizona win. The Yankees have just one run, six hits and a sickly .102 batting average thus far.
"When Curt and Randy are on, I go unnoticed and that means I'm doing my job," Arizona catcher Damian Miller said. "Together, they're pitching as well as anybody has in this game for a long time -- right when we need them."
The teams boarded charter flights after the game for the trip to New York, where the series will continue Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees face the unenviable task of having to win four of five games if they want to win their fourth straight Series title.
And at least two of those wins will have to come against Johnson and Schilling.
"We've run into two straight great pitchers who were hot," said Jeter, who is mired in a 2-for-24 postseason slump. "They dominated us, and you really can't say much more."
"He was wonderful. He was sensational," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Johnson. "No question, he dominated like he was capable of doing."
The Yankees were not enthralled with the strike zone of home plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck and spent much of the night barking at him, especially about low strikes. The constant carping was odd. After all, it's tough to dispute what you can't see.
"To be honest, I don't know what their approach was against me," Johnson said. "I'm sure they had one. It may have been to work the pitch count but don't get deep into it, and to swing if I'm throwing strikes. . . . Because Damian did such a good job behind home plate calling the game today, we were able to get ahead of hitters. Now they have to be more aggressive and I can do what I want."
Johnson's fastball got as high as 99 mph and was consistently at 95. His slider was lethal, especially as it broke down and in to New York's stacked lineup of right-handed hitters. He mixed in a split-finger pitch just to make sure New York batters never found their balance in the box.
"You just want to make sure he doesn't overthrow," Miller said. "If he's working 95-97 (mph) at the knees, you see that guys can't touch him."
New York starter Andy Pettitte was nearly as good as Johnson, allowing just five hits in seven innings. But he was touched for Danny Bautista's RBI double to right-center in the second and Matt Williams' three-run home run in the seventh.
In the seventh, Pettitte hit Luis Gonzalez on the wrist leading off the inning, but he appeared to get out of trouble when Reggie Sanders hit a double-play ball to Scott Brosius at third.
But Brosius bobbled the ball slightly getting it out of his glove. With Gonzalez bearing down on second base, Alfonso Soriano's relay to first was high and Sanders beat it out.
Bautista followed by banging a one-hopper off Pettitte's knee that went for an infield single. Williams was next. On an 0-1 pitch, Pettitte left a breaking ball up in the strike zone and paid a heavy price. Williams rocketed the ball deep into the left-field seats, 412 feet away from home plate.
New York was hitless until Jorge Posada's leadoff single in the fifth. Shane Spencer and Alfonso Soriano led off the eighth with singles, but Johnson recovered to strike out Brosius and induced pinch-hitter Luis Sojo to hit into an around-the-horn double play to escape the threat. That was it for the Yankees.
"He was amazing," Sojo said of Johnson. "You couldn't touch him."