Mussina, Yanks’ win leader, does it again

Yanks vs Twins in AAA, AA and Hi-A too
The timing of Derek's slump

Alright, Yankee fans, roll call time. Raise your hand if, in Spring Training, you predicted that Mike Mussina and his eight wins would be leading the Yankees. Put your hand down, you in the back.

As hard as it is to believe, Mike Mussina, 39, is the Yankees’ winningest pitcher. He’s confounding the analysts; he’s beating Father Time; and he’s certainly proving me wrong. By mixing speeds and hitting spots, Mussina is getting the job done.

Tonight, disaster nearly befell early on. Spotted to a 1-0 lead, Mussina came oh so close to falling apart when a Shelley Duncan error — his third of the season in limited duty at first base — lead to a big Minnesota inning. After the first, the Twins had scored four runs, two earned, and Mussina had thrown 36 pitches. Now, usually at this point, I’d write off Mussina, and in a text message to Mike and Joe, I did.

But Mussina, as is his wont this year, proved me wrong. Over the next five innings, Mussina would need just 73 pitches to keep the Twins from scoring again, and his line — 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K — is downright great. The final five innings looks even better: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. Color me impressed.

(As an aside, it seemed to me on the highlight reel that a lot of the Twins’ base hits in the first were aided by the turf. On grass, some of those balls are outs, no?)

Meanwhile, the Yanks, who left their baserunning shoes at home today, let the bats do the work. Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez and the AL’s leading hitter Hideki Matsui went a combined 9 for 12 and were on base 11 teams. Jose Molina and Melky Cabrera contributed hits as well, and the Yanks were able to plate six runs en route to a victory.

Of course, Kyle Farnsworth looked a bit dicey, and of course, the media is going to harp on this for approximately forever. But Joba’s starting, and the eighth inning is a work in progress.

So the Yankees find themselves with one game left in May, and I feel like this game can set the tenor for the next month. The Yanks are now at .500, and to end the month at one game over would be a huge boost. Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang, winless since May 2, could use that very same boost. I’m always wary of watching Wang pitch on turf; his career numbers on turf are not too comforting, and his ERA on turf is 0.90 higher than it is on grass.

But that’s a worry for later. Right now, the Yanks can sleep comfortably with their seventh win in nine games under their belts.

Yanks vs Twins in AAA, AA and Hi-A too
The timing of Derek's slump
  • mustang

    That’s co-AL wins leader Mike Mussina.
    I loved the thread.

  • Yankees=warriors

    Moose deserves all this! Could this be the year he finally wins 20 games?

    • mustang

      That would be funny lets not get crazy.

      • whozat

        It’d sure be incredible. I’m sure it’d be a product of good run support going forward. It certainly wouldn’t be his best season in the bigs, those are already past. But it’d probably be the season that put him in the Hall in the minds of a lot of voters.

  • Bart

    It seems to me Moose has a history of give up when the defense makes poor plays behind him — after Shelly’s play — Jeter saved that inning with the dive and flip

    But what is it with Jeter — down 3 runs – 2 out, 2 on and a struglingling pitcher and he swings at the first pitch AGAIN – by all over the years he is such a smart ball player — sems to me this is a recurring thing — maybe it seems worse due to his uncharacterisic slump the lat 20 games or s0

    • swo

      Captain DP seems to press when he’s slumping, huh? I definitely screamed at my TV when he swung at that first pitch……I hope he breaks out of this funk, because he’s starting to get kinda frustrating to watch.

      • Old Ranger

        Sometimes the 1st pitch is the best pitch. If the pitcher has struggled to get the fist pitch(or two) over, the next batter will get the first one right down the middle (sometimes). Jete has always batted this way, that’s why he has never batted lead-off much…swings at to many pitches, always has. This is why his OBP is not as high as it could be, with his BA at .272 OBP .325…it should show + 75 points, there about (for a good lead-off hitter). 27/08?

  • Mark B

    Somebody pinch me…..Moose is leading the AL in wins, Matsui playing DH is leading the AL in batting average….Giambi is leading the team in HRs and slugging. All while Tampa Bay is leading the division, Posada is out, Jeter is cold, A Rod hasn’t gotten started yet and Joba is getting ready to enter the rotation.

    You know what? I actually am actually thinking this team just may have some postseason possibilities….

    • Todd

      Mark, was there anything to learn from last year? We were worse off if you can recall. Yankee fans need to chill out, understand that the season is a marathon, and not get into the tabloid nonsense that creates the daily panic. I know that we are beating up on weak teams, but the Yankees are a good team. Let’s not forget theorganizational bullpen depth because we have been hit hard by injuries.

  • nick blasioli

    i wonder if anyone thinks that the yankees will try to get eric threet a lefty reliever from san fran…it would be great and we have some interesting players to trade…duncan..etc…

    • whozat

      Yeah, I’d really love to have another reliever who doesn’t throw strikes. That’d be great. Walks out of the pen are awesome.

      And DUNCAN is an interesting player?

      • Mark B

        Amen on that….Threets has given up a 3.75 WHIP to Left-handed batters, 11 hits and 9 walks adn 6 K’s in 10 innings.

        Threets would be Sean Henn Part II in our bullpen and Duncan would be of no use to SF as just another career minor leaguer.

        Damaso Marte, maybe….but think again about using ERic Duncan of all people as the bargaining chip!

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Power pitchers give up homers. I don’t mind the occasional solo shot off Farnsworth, I just don’t want to see any walks.

  • Kelvin

    Well, I for one one, would wish, and would be happy, for Moose to finally win 20 games.

  • JRVJ

    I’ve been mentioning all along how Mussina might just be back next year.

    I’m still not fully sold on that option (and I’m a BIG Moose fan), but the mere fact that this is a possibility is something that I would not have countenanced after last year…….

  • Old Ranger

    Well, Shelley put mud on my face (among other things). I give him a break on his defence…what happens, Booooo. I still like his D more then a few of the others we have. It would be nice to have good D and Offence at 1st. Oh well, maybe next year!?! 27/08?

    • r.w.g.

      I think Shelley Duncan has clearly demonstrated himself to be our single worst current option at 1B. I’m not sure who you could possibly prefer him over.

  • Mark B

    Betemit and Duncan need to pick it up at the plate…..Broussard just may be a better option both as a hitter and defender.

    • Rich

      Broussard can’t hit LH pitching, which is the team’s offensive weakness.

      2005-2007 v. L:

      .209 .267 .373 .640

      They need a RH bat, or alternatively, figure out a way to get Gardner in the lineup because even though he is LH, he can hit lefties:

      .360 .459 .640 1.099 (although his BABIP is .429).

      I agree, however, that S Dunc has to go.

    • steve (different one)

      Betemit has still only had 34 ABs.

      he has tremendous power and is probably the most intriguing player on the roster as far as potential.

      he made 2 outs last night that were smoked. the last out that Gomez tracked down in CF was driven the other way, what, 375 feet?

      i would much rather see him get all of the remaining ABs that aren’t going to the starting 9. Duncan is not a major leaguer.

  • jack

    Hey -You’re on the clock on the mock draft. Get going!!!

  • LiveFromNewYork

    On the post game show Girardi said Moose is a smart pitcher and we all know that is true. His boy-genius demeanor has always gotten him in trouble though…because his Stanford ego will stare down umps and get rattled when he’s falling behind.

    It could be that Moose is finally letting his smarts work for good and not for evil. Now that he’s pushing 40 he’s had to make changes and perhaps the brain in his head has helped him figure it all out.

    Whatever it is, he deserves it. I hope he continues to climb the win list.

    • Sam P.

      I 100% agree. I was pretty frustrated at the start of the season as it seemed he refused to want to change. He’s really shown serious improvements and the ability to change.

      It’s great to see and I’m happy for him. Let’s see it continue.

    • Count Zero

      Agreed. And I am happy to say I was wrong when I said he was toast early in the season.

      I hope he can keep it up.

      • mustang

        So you’re the guy I have been making fun of that “toast” tag all season.
        It’s cool I don’t think anyone including me thought he would be doing this well.
        I respect your comment.