07/14/10 2:10 AM EST
JJ, Hanley enjoy this All-Star Game the most
Ace throws two perfect frames; shortstop still savoring Derby
By Bill Ladson / MLB.com
He was able to watch teammate Hanley Ramirez finish second behind Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday. During the contest, Johnson's wife wanted to leave because their son was getting restless, but the pitcher stuck around until the end.
"I said, 'We have to stay here,'" Johnson said. "My son was getting a little restless -- running around and going crazy -- but it was good that Hanley did a great job for the organization."
The second reason was that Johnson also was able to pitch in the Midsummer Classic, the first time he was able to make an appearance. He pitched two perfect innings as the National League defeated the American League, 3-1, at Angel Stadium. The victory broke the NL's 13-game losing streak against the AL. Braves catcher Brian McCann highlighted the scoring with a three-run double in the seventh.
"He has been doing it all year," Johnson said about McCann. "I've seen him do it a lot of times to us. It's good to be on this side and have him do it for our team."
Johnson wasn't able to pitch in last year's All-Star Game because he pitched the Sunday before the game.
"Last year, they told me pretty much that I wasn't going in," Johnson said. "The coaching staff told me that if something crazy happened -- like the game going 15 innings -- [that was the only way I was going to play]. I knew going in I wouldn't pitch.
"It was awesome to get in this year. I've been looking forward to it ever since I found out that I was selected to the All-Star team."
Johnson had plenty of rest this year, and he entered the game in the top of the third inning and dominated. His fastball was clocked as high as 99 mph, and he was able to get two strikeouts. The closest K came against Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Johnson remembered the advice he received from Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire when it came to facing Ichiro: With two strikes, throw the fastball high and outside. Johnson was able to strike out Suzuki on four pitches.
"It was close -- I don't know if it was up or not," Johnson said. "You get a guy like that, a guy that is that well respected in this game, it's always fun to play against the best."
As for Ramirez, he made his third All-Star appearance and went 0-for-3 in the game. Like many on the NL squad, he wanted to see the AL lose for a change.
Asked how much he wanted to see the NL win, Ramirez said, "A lot. It has been a long time since we won a game. We have a great pitching staff."
Although he didn't do much in the game, Ramirez called this year's experience the best because he finished second behind his mentor, Ortiz, in the Home Run Derby.
"I'm happy to be here," Ramirez said. "Last night, I did something I'll never forget for life. I'll never forget this time. I grew up watching David. That was something big for me.
"Manny [Ramirez] and David were like my two dads. So I know them very well and they know me. We always have a good relationship. Everywhere they would go, they would take me. I would go to their house. I always watched them."
Ramirez and Ortiz taught the Marlins' shortstop well about hitting, for Ramirez is hitting .301 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs entering the second half of the season.