|Wednesday, May 9
Updated: May 10, 10:41 AM ET
Johnson's performance listed -- but not at the top
PHOENIX Twice before, Randy Johnson had fallen one strikeout short of the coveted 20 mark, so when he finally reached it, his emotion burst through.
He thrust his glove into the air, shouted to the sky, then lifted his hat to the cheering crowd.
"It's much like a no-hitter," Johnson said Wednesday as he reflected on his Tuesday night masterpiece. "If it happens, it was meant to be. If it doesn't happen, well you just say you still gave it all you had.
"There are only two other players in the history of baseball who have done it," Johnson said. "There's a great deal of satisfaction in doing it."
Johnson joined Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood as the only pitchers to strike out 20 in nine innings. Clemens did it twice. The record for most strikeouts in a game is 21, set by Tom Cheney, who pitched all of a 16-inning game for the Washington Senators back in 1962.
Because the Diamondbacks and Reds were tied 1-1 when Johnson left the game after nine innings, his accomplishment will be listed by the Elias Sports Bureau, baseball's official record keeper, as second under most strikeouts in an extra-inning game, behind Cheney's 21.
He will not be listed as co-holder of the record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game. In Johnson's mind, though, he shares that record with Clemens and Woods.
"I think I do, so when someone says I don't, well I did what they did in nine," Johnson said. "I'm not losing sleep over it. I know what I did. I'm not making a big deal out of it."
Mark Grace, who played first base behind Wood and Johnson in their 20-strikeout games, said whatever Elias says is irrelevent.
"Anybody who knows baseball realizes he did the same exact thing that the other guys did," Grace said, "and it was a fabulous accomplishment."
Johnson was satisfied he made the right decision when he told Arizona manager Bob Brenly his night was done after nine innings.
"I don't know how many pitches I had, but it wasn't really too important to go out for the 10th inning and possibly put the team in a situation to lose," Johnson said.
The Diamondbacks won 4-3 in 11.
Johnson threw 124 pitches, 92 for strikes. Brenly was satisfied he came out at the right time.
"I just asked him, 'How are you doing?"' Brenly said. "And, by the look on his face and the exhale of breath that he gave me when I asked him that question, I thought he'd had enough. He was physically and mentally spent."
Diamondbacks catcher Damian Miller said Johnson had command throughout.
"His slider was the best I've seen in the three years I've been here," Miller said. "It was devastating. I mean, sometimes I couldn't catch it, it was so good."
Johnson had a simple pitching line three hits, no walks. He retired the first 13 batters before the Reds nicked him for a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Ruben Rivera. But Cincinnati rookie Chris Reitsma matched him, allowing just seven hits and one run in eight innings.
"There aren't many people who can say they played in two 20-strikeout games," Grace said. "I've been fortunate. But it was something to see.
"There really wasn't much difference," Grace said of Wood and Johnson. "They both had that electric slider going."
Johnson struck out the side in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings, and fanned two batters in the first, second, third, fifth and ninth. His only one-strikeout inning was the sixth.
His sixth strikeout pushed him past Bob Gibson for 11th place all-time. Then he matched his personal best (19) by striking out Deion Sanders to start the ninth, and reached 20 when Juan Castro went down swinging for the final out of the inning.
The 20 strikeouts gave Johnson 92 for the season and 3,132 for his career. He twice struck out 19 in 1997 games for Seattle, in a 4-1 loss to Oakland and a 5-0 win against the Chicago White Sox.
The only other left-hander to reach 19 was Steve Carlton, in 1969, losing to the New York Mets 4-3.
"I'm in great company," Johnson said, "but now I know what they've had to do to get there. The thing that blows me away is I've got 3,000 strikeouts, and Nolan Ryan has 5,700. That puts things in perspective."