Mike Mussina made his Major League debut on August 4, 1991, losing 1-0 to 43-year-old Charlie Hough. Felix Hernandez, the Mariners’ young stud, was all of five years old at the time.
Today, Mussina and the 253 games he has won since that debut loss will face off against Felix Hernandez, 22, and his 32 career wins. This could be quite the match-up. On one side, we’ve got Hernandez — anointed the King — a power pitcher with 41 strike outs in 44.1 innings this year. His ERA is a measly 2.22. On the other side is Mike Mussina who no longer generates too many swing-and-misses. His 12 strike outs has Moose sitting pretty at 3.34 K/9 IP, a career low. Mussina today relies on guile as he attempts to get hitters to swing weakly at breaking pitches and slow change ups.
For Mussina, this style of pitching has worked lately. Remove the Red Sox from his 2008 equation, and Moose has given up 8 earned runs in 23.2 innings, good for a 3.04 ERA. That’s downright great for a Yankee rotation struggling to prevent runs. Mussina won’t give the Yanks much in the way of distance; he tires around the five-inning mark. But he sure can hold his own against Hernandez.
Meanwhile, the struggling Yankee offense continues to run into brick walls. After facing Eric Bedard, they draw another Seattle ace in King Felix. Opponents are hitting .238/.306/.335, and the Yankees will go with their typical lineup these days.
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