It’s been two starts since Erik Johnson has been able to find any semblance of rhythm to his game.
Tabbed as the White Sox No. 3 starter and No. 2 prospect by Baseball America to begin the season, Johnson has backed up like a kid climbing up the down escalator.
The 6-foot-3 California native has shown flashes of the low-to-mid 90s fastball and wipeout slider that gave the White Sox so much reason for optimism during a five-start audition he made in the big leagues last season; however, he’s not been able to build on those successes.
Johnson lasted four innings in Friday’s 13-4 loss to the Rochester Red Wings in front of 10,421. He allowed seven runs on six hits and five walks, and has issued 13 free passes in his last nine innings of work.
“It could be mechanics; it could be a number of things going on out there,” Johnson said after the game. “The things that I need to accomplish aren’t mechanical. It’s about throwing strikes. It’s about getting ahead and putting guys away.”
There are those who have speculated that there may be a physical issue holding Johnson back, but that’s not the case, he says.
“Everything’s feeling good.”
Johnson (1-3) issued three free passes in the first inning that all turned into runs when Chris Colabello crushed a one-out grand slam to left.
In his second trip to the mound, Johnson walked two more and watched both score later in the frame on a single and a sacrifice fly. He allowed three more hits and a run in fourth to put an end to another long night, finishing with 97 pitches (55 for strikes).
“In the first, I got behind, walked a few guys all on fastballs,” said Johnson, whose ERA climbed to 6.49.
“Later, I threw some good curveballs and got some swing and misses on changeups. The slider was there too and the fastball came as the game went on. Take away the first inning and I’m probably pitching a lot deeper into that game.”
Asheville 6, Kannapolis 4: The host Tourists scored three on three extra-base hits in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete a comeback.
Hickory 10, West Virginia 3: Ryan Cordell was 3-for-3 and Nomar Mazara had 3 RBI for the host Crawdads (33-27).
Red Wings 13, Knights 4
LOB–ROC: 6, CHA: 8. 2B–Florimon, Rohlfing, Saladino, Tekotte. HR—Colabello, Ramirez, Danks, Davidson, Phegley. SF–Romero.
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