By the time the Yanks’ bats came alive last night, Mike Mussina had hit the showers. He missed out on his first crack at 17 wins, and as his quest for that elusive 20-win season continues, he’ll have one more shot next week against the Red Sox in New York. Meanwhile, the Yanks won to keep pace with the victorious Red Sox and Rays.
Tonght’s game started out on a strong note. Three batters into the game, Radhames Liz had yet to retire a batter, and the Yanks had runners on 1st and 2nd and one run in. But A-Rod hit into a double play, and Jason Giambi struck out. While the Yanks were, at that point, 2 for 4 with runners in scoring position, it was an unsatisfying way to start the game.
When the Orioles came up in the first, it was clear that Mike Mussina didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t getting close calls behind the plate. He allowed runs in the first, third and fourth before settling down, but he stood to be the losing pitcher after allowing a run in the sixth — his final inning of work. On the night, Moose gutted it out through six innings and allowed four earned runs on nine hits. He walked none and struck out three. In other words, he was good but not good enough to earn himself that win.
After Moose hit the showers, though, the Yankee bats took over. They scored two in the eighth and four in the ninth behind five Bobby Abreu hits, a Cody Ransom three-run home run and a Xavier Nady blast. Twice tonight the Yanks went back-to-back with home runs. Robbie Cano and Jose Molina accomplished the feat earlier in the game, pushing Liz out.
Once Mariano Rivera nailed down the final out of the 9th for a four-out save — thank you, Damaso Marte — the Yankees walked away with a comfortable 9-4 win over the last-place Orioles. They’ve maintained a six-game gap between them and the Red Sox in the Wild Card race and stand to return home with at least a .500 record on their AL East road trip.
More importantly, they won a game in which Mussina didn’t have his best start and prior to the first effort by Carl Pavano since April of 2007. Who knows what they’ll get from Carl later today, but the pressure is off, albeit slightly, as the bats delivered a much-needed victory on a Friday in Baltimore.