The Yankees hit a high and a low last night in Toronto as Mike Mussina won his 19th game, but the Yankees were officially eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 1993. While the Yankees were beating the Blue Jays, 3-1, the Red Sox were beating the Cleveland Indians, 5-4, in Boston.
It was almost entirely a night of lows when Mussina was hit on the right elbow by a line drive off the bat of Travis Snider. Moose was clearly in pain as he tried to walk it off, with a stressed Joe Girardi looking on. After a couple of warm up tosses, Mussina remained in the game and quickly got Joe Inglett to hit into an inning ending double play.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead against Jay's starter Jesse Litsch in the second inning when Xavier Nady followed Jason Giambi's single with a double, and Robinson Cano grounded out, with the infield back conceding the run. Giambi made it a 2-0 game in the fourth when he crushed a pitch over the wall in right-center for his 32nd home run of the year, and the 396th of his career.
Mussina showed no ill effects in the fourth and fifth innings, retiring six of the seven hitters he faced, but his elbow stiffened up and Girardi removed him before the sixth inning.
The Yankees added a big insurance run in the seventh when Cano doubled, and came around on a pair of wild pitches. The play at the plate was a close one, and catcher Greg Zaun and manager Cito Gaston argued, to no avail, that Cano was out.
After Phil Coke and Brian Bruney combined for a scoreless sixth inning and the first out in the seventh, Girardi sent for Damaso Marte to face a pair of Blue Jays' lefties. But Adam Lind singled and Marte walked Lyle Overbay to bring the tying run to the plate. Girardi quickly went to Joba Chamberlain, who was greeted by a line drive RBI single off the bat of Scott Rolen to cut the lead to 3-1. Chamberlain struck out Zaun and then wild pitched the tying runs into scoring position. But the hard throwing right-hander struck out Snider swinging to end the threat.
Chamberlain got in trouble again with two out in the eighth after a single by Alex Rios and a throwing error by shortstop Cody Ransom on Vernon Wells' grounder. Chamberlain compounded the issue by walking Lind to load the bases, and went to a full count on Overbay. But a nasty slider froze Overbay for a called third strike and the Blue Jays' threat was done.
Mariano Rivera struck out two of three in the ninth, including Zaun, who got the "Golden Sombrero", for his 38th save in 39 tries.
News and Notes
Mike Mussina won his 19th game for the first time since 1996, when he his finished his second consecutive 19-win season. He also needs just 5.2 innings pitched this season to reach 200 innings for the first time since 2003. Elbow permitting, he's set to face the Red Sox in Boston on Sunday.
Derek Jeter was scratched from the starting lineup after not being able to effectively swing a bat, due to the fastball he took off his left hand on Saturday, during batting practice. He came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning, with Cody Ransom sliding over to first base to replace Jason Giambi.
Yankees pitching had 14 strikeouts in the game.