|Diamondbacks learning to play with the elite|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 11 June 2007 12:16|
``We pitched, we battled and they know what it takes now to compete against the best team in baseball,'' said Johnson, who earned his 284th victory in Arizona's 5-1 win Sunday. ``Hopefully, what they got out of this, they saw the best team in baseball, what it takes to win. You can't give them extra outs. You have to do the little things right.''
The series provided a valuable lesson for the young Diamondbacks - and one that could help them when they open a three-game series at the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. Arizona began the trip percentage points back of San Diego atop the NL West.
Outfielder Eric Byrnes, one of the Diamondbacks' few veterans, said his teammates weren't wide-eyed when they went 3-3 against the NL East-leading Mets and the AL East-leading Red Sox.
``To play both those the past two weekends and to come out of there doing pretty well is a pretty good indication of where this team is,'' said Byrnes, who had three hits Sunday to raise his average to a team-high .319.
Arizona is 2-4 in regular-season games against the Yankees and rallied to beat New York in seven games in the 2001 World Series.
``I don't think there's much that surprises these guys any more,'' Byrnes said. ``I don't think anyone is going to be intimidated. We're going to compete, and we're going to have fun, and I think we can play with them.''
After struggling for most of the season, the Yankees have won six straight heading into the series.
The Diamondbacks send reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb (6-3, 3.13 ERA) against Chien-Ming Wang (5-4, 3.73) in the opener. Livan Hernandez (5-3, 3.66) faces Mike Mussina (2-3, 5.63) on Wednesday and Doug Davis (4-7, 3.48) meets Andy Pettitte (3-4, 3.11) on Thursday.
After losing the first two games against Boston 10-3 and 4-3 in 10 innings, Arizona beat Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka.
``It just showed us that we need to execute when we're going up against a team that has that much firepower, try to take advantage of every opportunity we have,'' outfielder Carlos Quentin said. ``We realized that you have to stay persistent.''
Now the Diamondbacks will try to apply the experience in Yankee Stadium.
``It'll be a learning experience for a lot of these young people to go into Yankee Stadium and stand up to the big boys,'' Johnson said.
Johnson spent two frustrating seasons in New York, and it wasn't surprising when manager Bob Melvin announced that the team had asked Johnson to skip the trip and rejoin the club for his scheduled start in Baltimore on Friday night. The move allows Johnson to rest his surgically repaired back while avoiding scrutiny in the Bronx.
Before the team left on Sunday, Johnson was asked what advice he would give them.
``Enjoy it,'' he said. ``But don't be intimidated.''