10/03/12 11:37 PM ET
Johnson shows flare for Game No. 162 drama
Second straight season with key homers in final game
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Johnson hit the famous game-tying, pinch-hit homer last year for the Rays off Yankees reliever Cory Wade with two outs and two strikes in the final inning of the final game of the regular season, keeping Tampa Bay alive, and allowing Evan Longoria to walk off the Yankees in the 12th with a Wild Card-clinching home run.
In Wednesday's 9-0 whitewash of the Indians by the White Sox, Johnson homered in the second, fifth and ninth innings for the first three-homer game of his career. Longoria, in a strange coincidence, also homered three times against the Orioles on Wednesday night.
It was the 15th game of at least three homers for an individual player in White Sox history and first since Carlos Quentin on May 24, 2011, at Texas.
Paul Konerko, who also went deep on Wednesday, was the last opposing player to accomplish the feat against the Indians, getting the job done on July 7, 2009, at U.S. Cellular Field. Johnson didn't realize the Game 162 coincidence until launching his first 424-foot blast.
"That's one of those feelings that you can't explain," said Johnson. "That's why we play this game, for feelings like that. For me, there's not much greater feeling in the game than being able to watch the ball go over the fence as you are trotting down to first."
"Credit to him. Hats off," said Cleveland starter David Huff, who gave up Johnson's first two homers. "He got two very good pitches and he crushed them."
After hitting 28 homers and driving in 85 runs for Triple-A Charlotte, these were Johnson's first big league homers this season. Even in the last game, this effort might open some eyes that a healthy Johnson could be a productive 2013 addition.
"You have to play every at-bat like it's your last and I really have something to prove," Johnson said. "I went out there today and gave it everything I had. I was fortunate enough to get three big hits."
"He will always play in 162," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Johnson. "I will tell you that."