Friday, September 19, 2008

Moose Grabs 18th With Two to Go

Mike Mussina still has a shot at his first 20 win season after defeating the Chicago White Sox last night, 9-2, at Yankee Stadium. Mussina must win each of his final two starts, but either way, he made his final Stadium start a memorable one. He got a big hand from Bobby Abreu, who hit a pair of home runs and drove in a season high 6 runs.

All eyes were on Mussina though, who is in his eighth, and possibly last, season in the Bronx. He started out shaky, loading the bases with just one out in the first, but escaped with just one run allowed. Abreu picked him right up though with a 2-run, upper deck blast off of ex-Yankee Javier Vazquez in the home half of the inning.

Two innings later Abreu struck again, this time with no one aboard, hitting a Vazquez delivery into the bleachers in right-center field (as far as we know that fan didn't make it three nights in a row). It was Abreu's 19th home run of the season, and he leaves one home run shy of becoming only the third player in MLB history with eight 20 home run, 20 steal seasons (The Bonds', Barry and Bobby, have 10 seasons.).

Mussina allowed just two more base runners until the seventh inning when, at Dave Eiland's suggestion, Joe Girardi sent him out to face one hitter. Mussina allowed a lead off double to Brian Anderson, but exited to the standing ovation Eiland had counted on.

The Yankees broke the game open in the fourth after Robinson Cano drew a one out walk, his first free pass since August 20. Vazquez struck out Juan Miranda, but then issued back to back walks to Jose Molina and Brett Gardner. Derek Jeter's infield single extended the score to 4-1 and knocked Vazquez from the game. Ozzie Guillen brought in left-hander Horacio Ramirez to face Abreu, but the Yankees right fielder delivered again, this time with a single to right field that plated two more runs. An Alexei Ramirez error on Alex Rodriguez's grounder allowed the final run of the inning to score and built the Yankees lead to 7-1.

Guillen then made a curious decision, ostensibly out of frustration, by pulling starters Orlando Cabrera, Jermaine Dye, A.J. Pierzynski, Ken Griffey Jr., and Ramirez from the ball game, despite it being only the fifth inning. The move had no effect. Jose Veras finished up the seventh for Mussina and then the much anticipated debut of Humberto Sanchez took place in the eighth inning. Francisco Cervelli also made his debut behind home plate.

News and Notes

Chris Britton allowed a solo home run to Paul Konerko in the ninth.

Johnny Damon missed the game due to the birth of his daughter Danica.

Mike Mussina won his 268th game, tying him for 33rd place on the all-time wins list with Jim Palmer. Winning the final two won't be easy, he has to face Toronto and Boston.

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