It’s Mike Mussina’s world…

McCutchen finishes what he starts
What's wrong with Robbie?

…and we’re just living in it.

Perhaps Mike Mussina, 39, sold his soul to the devil. Perhaps he has been replaced with Bizarro Mike Mussina. Perhaps he’s simply learned to be a better pitcher, proving the exception to the rule stating you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. No matter what, it’s become a pleasure to watch Mike Mussina — the AL leader in wins — work this year.

Now, I’ll be honest with you: Every time Mussina struggles in the first inning, I always think, “Well, that goes that Cinderella story.” When I turned off the game to go out to dinner after the top of the second, I figured we were in for a slugfest. Imagine my surprise to find that Mike Mussina was nearly flawless after that first inning.

The Yanks quickly fell behind tonight, 3-0, on a mammoth home run by Carlos Lee. Mussina looked vulnerable, but the Yanks’ bats quickly plated two to close the gap while the new Mike Mussina went to work. Over the next five innings, Mussina would allow three hits and no runs while walking no one and striking out four. The Yanks would plate eight runs and move three games above .500 for the first time all season. Believe it or not, the Yanks are now third in the Wild Card race.

While the bats went to work — with contributions from Melky Cabrera, Jose Molina and Wilson Betemit, not the most likely cast of characters — the story was Mussina. Moose hasn’t walked a batter in his last 14 innings, and he’s now won 10 games for the 17th time in his 18-year career. That is no small feat.

On the season, Mussina has thrown 81.1 innings, and he’s 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA. He’s struck out 46 while walking just 11, and he’s doing a masterful job of keeping runners off base. Tonight, he struggled in the first inning, a common theme this year. In fact, if you remove his 15 first innings this year — covering 14.2 innings — Mussina has a 3.51 ERA in 66.2 innings. This is vintage Mike Mussina with a different style, and it’s truly great. Enjoy the ride.

McCutchen finishes what he starts
What's wrong with Robbie?
  • Simon B.

    It’s really been evident since start #1. It’s not just craftiness; it’s not just adjusting (though some of it is); it’s great secondary stuff.

    Must we always measure stuff by the velocity on the four-seam fastball? Everything he throws looks fantastic. Two-seamers, several different breaking balls, changeups, everything is biting.

    And my prediction of 130+ IP of above-average ERA is actually looking a bit conservative now—though I imagine Mussina might tire a bit going into the second half. Still, he has what it takes to continue to be proficient throughout the season.

  • Yankees=warriors

    Though I like Moose, I’ll admit that’s what I thought too when the 1st inning unfolded.

  • Jamal G.

    He’s not that much of a crafty veteran that people are making him out to be, he has hit 90-MPH the past two starts as the weather heats up.

    I remember in the off-season I was saying how he was not as bad as people thought during the 2007 season, how he had a great stretch of about a dozen games before that three start horror. Also how he made a nice comeback afterwards. I’m not in the mood to rehash the stats I used last time but I am not surprised as much as some others, he was not a 5.00+ ERA pitcher last year as that number might indicate.

    BTW, I have both seasons one and two of The Boondocks, great show.

  • Young davey baby

    HE was terribly unlikely last year and he over threw. Two years ago he was a top ten pitcher in the al. if he can add 8 wins from here out it will be 32 wins till 300. A nice trip to the nl could be done in 3-4 years no problem. Mike has been in the toughest division in baseball for his entire career. Less Dh’s more pitchers, defensive replaces old bats off the bench. I wouldnt be surprised if we are talking 300 before his 41st birthday

    Still think Wang will have a hotter summer….

    • Young davey baby

      He was terribly unluckly last year and it led to over throwing***

  • marc ack

    does anybody here really trust him come playoffs and game on the line? I just picture him getting bombed.

  • Rich

    I give props to Mussina for the turnaround, I thought he was done, and like Ben, I fear that every bad 1st inning is a sign that a regression is at hand.

    As long as we’re giving credit where it’s due, however, I think Girardi deserves some as well. He said after Moose got knocked around earlier in the season that he had to learn to “pitch backwards,” that is, he needed to use his off speed pitches to get ahead early in the count to set up his fastball. That is exactly what Moose is doing.

    As for the playoffs, I think the decision should be made based on who is pitching well in September. As an aside, I may be one of the few people who think that Hughes will be dynamite by then.

    • Simon B.

      Hughes could be dynamite, but there was just so much wrong with him early in the year that I’m very cautious. I hope all his problems were caused by the rib injury and eyesight, but more likely he’s going to have to make some adjustments before he becomes what we hope he becomes.

      I hope they don’t rush him. Let him get a good bundle of performances in Scranton before he is promoted.

  • nmc

    So: do we re-sign Mussina after this year? If we have the opportunity, I say yes, even if it’s a two-year 14-16M deal. He looks good. Better than your average 5th starter, easily. I know we have Kennedy, Phil, Joba, Hughes, Wang, Pettitte, and Moose, but a surplus is not a bad thing.

  • Vader

    It all depends on the $$$, I wonder if he would do a one year deal with an option on a second depending on innings, wins, or something like that.

    Either way Moose is having a year that no one thought he would have and good for him. I never thought he got the respect from all of the stat driven media types on how good of a pitcher he really is.

    I mean he has pitched his whole career in the AL east through the steroid era and not to mention the DH, and the late 90’s Yankees teams.

    Does anyone think that Maddux or Glavine could have had the same careers that they have had, in the AL east?

    • Pettitte’s stare

      My thought is that if he continues to pitch this well someone in the NL will overpay him and we can collect some picks from him at the end of the year.

  • Manimal

    I guess Hank actually helped. Hes pitching more like Jamie Moyer. I say sign him to a one year deal, with a one year team option. Give him money, he deserves it.

  • Double-J

    Wait, you guys said Melky contributed. Thanks. Now he’s going to go 0-4 today. Can’t you guys keep ripping on him so he does better? I like this sort of reverse jinx we had going. :P

  • pete c.

    Yeah that’s the ticket, all he had to do was listen to Hank and everything works out.
    I didn’t think he was washed up at the begining of the year but I didn’t think he’d be standing where he is now. He’s gonna have a strech around the all-star break where he can’t get out of his own way. And then in August he’ll catch lightning in a bottle again and pitch like now. It’ll be up to Girrardi to keep him as fresh as possible for the post.

  • JT

    Take the good year that he has given us, and move on. Let’s not fall for the same trap by resigning him after a good contract year.

    I am still concerned with the quality of his stuff. These are major league hitters, and eventually they will make adjustments. When they comes, everyone will turn on Moose so quickly. That’s the nature of a many Yankee fan, let’s not forget this.

    • Seven Costanza

      of course, moose won’t be making adjustments himself, right?

      • JT

        There is only so many adjustments you can make while throwing a 85mph fastball. What next, throw your curve at 50 mph to create a 35mph difference…

        • mustang

          How come they have not adjusted yet? The other teams don’t have video he been doing the same thing all year?

  • Mike R.

    That could have gotten ugly if it wasn’t for those four pitchers at the bottom of the lineup. ;)

  • Manimal

    Check out this irony.

    Johnny Damon has used maple bats for much of the season and estimates they have broken 30 times.

    That has been a trend around baseball. Worried that the bats might be banned for safety reasons, Damon ordered some traditional ash bats and used them last night. He was 3 for 5 – and broke two bats.

    • whozat

      It’s the issue of _how_ they break, not _that_ they break. Ash bats break, but you don’t have that thing where it shatters into many pieces that all go flying many different ways.

  • JT

    Maybe LouieVille Slugger needs to start producing some quality bats. Ash, maple, whatever, it just seems that the bat qualilty is down.

  • Mike A.

    So now that we have a second sample, I think we can safely say that contract year Mike Mussina is a pretty good pitcher. Who would have guessed?

  • Frank

    2005 NY 13 8 4.41 179.2 199 142K’s

    2006 NY 15 7 3.51 197.0 184 172K’s

    2007 NY 11 10 5.15 152.0 188 91K’s

    Why is Mike Mussina so good this year? mmm… OH! its a contract year! Check out his last contract year (2006) sandwiched between those other two… he’ll get another contract proving to himself and the rest of the world he is smarter than everyone else! Stanford. you know.

    • yankeemonkey

      Yes, I’m sure that all those other years he pitched well were just a fluke. Because, you know, Moose didn’t have any pride or cared that he was getting humiliated to the point of being taken out of the rotation, or anything like that.

      • mustang

        And you know who he was getting taken out of the rotation for those two DL all-stars.

  • JT

    Let’s just be happy with what we get from Moose this year, and MOVE ON. If anyone really thinks he will keep this up for the whole year, let alone 2 more years, you have to be kidding yourselfs. Not in the AL east, where every team is just getting better.

    • mustang

      He has done it for 10 wins so maybe your kidding yourself.
      No disrespect.

  • Frank

    what I am saying is a 30 something year-old pitcher will snap off that extra curve-ball or two and rear back & throw that fastball a couple more MPH’s & not worry about his arm that much.. in a CONTRACT YEAR. Maybe I’m cynical.. but fool me once…

  • ArchStanton

    This contract stuff needs to go. Mussina’s best year as a Yankee was his first, right after he signed his big deal. Give me a break.

  • mustang

    It’s just funny.
    For a month I watch the so call future of Yankees get their ass handled to them. People blame everything from the weather to the strike zone always referring to what some minor league scouts said about stuff and make up.
    Mean while the old man just kept pitching. His success meant with doubt and his failure expected.
    So I don’t know why I’m shocked when people count him out in the first inning or at things like he is going to get bombed in the playoff while Hughes comes in his white horse to save the day and on talk of success on contract years.
    All the guy has done is gone 10-4 when no one believed setting an AL RECORD for 17 years with 10 or more wins.
    So let people say what they want as long as the Yankees hand the ball to the MAN every 5 days.

    • Travis G.

      you really, REALLY hate the young’ns. it’s like you want them to fail.

      and please dont bring up a pitcher’s W-L record as evidence of their quality.

  • mustang

    Happy Father’s Day to all.

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