Four starts into the season, things were not looking up for Mike Mussina. The 39-year-old, coming off his worst professional season in 2007, began the year 1-3, and after a three-inning shellacking at the hands of Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox, his ERA stood at 5.75. On April 23, Hank Steinbrenner publicly slammed Mooes.
Well, since then, it’s been an entirely different story. With his eight shut-out innings this afternoon, Mike Mussina improved to 12-3 over his last 17 starts. He’s thrown 101 innings and has an ERA of 2.76 over that stretch. He has struck out 74 while walking just 13, none since his July 5 start against the Red Sox. He’s not giving up free passes; he’s pitching well with runners on base; and much like Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along.
For Mussina, today’s game was something of a milestone. He’s reached 13 wins in 21 starts, and he figures to have another 12 or 13 starts this season. Can he win seven more of those to reach 20 wins for the first time in his career? I’m pulling for him.
The Yanks, meanwhile, had their typical offensive game. Robinson Cano picked up his usual two hits; A-Rod picked up his usual two RBIs. After Glen Perkins stifled the offensive for the first four innings, mental errors doomed the Twins in the 5th, and the Yanks plated three more in the 6th.
While LaTroy Hawkins had to be lifted for Mariano Rivera with two outs in the ninth, the Yanks held on for a 5-1 win. They’ve won six straight since the All Star Break and ten in a row at home. While Tampa overcame a 2-0 deficit to top the A’s and the Mariners and Red Sox are facing off as I write, the Yankees are now in sole possession of second place in the Wild Card. This weekend, needless to say, is huge, and Joba will face Josh Beckett in a marquee match-up on Friday night. Who could ask for anything more?
Open Thread Rumors: With no game this evening, feel free to use this thread for a general baseball discussion. We’ve got rumors and news galore:
- While Jorge Posada is not quite ready to go under the knife, his days behind the plate this season are over. Ergo, according to RoboKen, the Yankees are looking for a catcher. I think the Molina/Moeller tandem can do well enough behind the dish, and the rest of the lineup should cover the offense. Go pitching, I say.
- Rumors are floating around the the Rockies are eying Humberto Sanchez as a possible piece to a Brian Fuentes trade. I’m still firmly in the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp here. The bullpen has been outstanding and shows no signs of slipping. They don’t need a lefty if everyone else is getting outs, and trading a chip for unnecessary piece isn’t a smart baseball move.
- Manny being Manny. Perhaps he hurt that knee while jaywalking.
- Melky got a talking-to after his mental error leading off the game yesterday. Oops.
Mike will hit you up with DotF later, and if news breaks, we’ll have something. Otherwise, play nice.