Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mussina Keeps Ray of Hope

Mike Mussina did his job once again and this time out the Yankees offense provided some support too. The end result was a 7-2 Yankees win that kept them 7 games behind Boston in their every fleeting wildcard hopes.

Mussina scattered 10 hits over 6 innings, allowing 2 runs, 1 walk, and struck out 8, for his 17th win of the season. The veteran right-hander still has a shot at his first 20 win season with four more probable starts. Last night's win was career victory number 267, putting him in sole possession of 35th place, one win behind Jim Palmer.

The Rays struck first on a Cliff Floyd RBI single in the third and Rays starter Matt Garza blanked the NYers through the first three innings. But in the fourth, Derek Jeter singled and stole second base. Bobby Abreu's drive to center field fell just short of the 404-ft mark for an out, but it allowed Jeter to advance to third base. After a walk to Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi brought Jeter home with the tying run with a sacrifice fly to center fielder. The X-Man then struck. Xavier Nady hit his 9th home run since donning the Pinstripes to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

Mussina escaped a two on, no one out jam in the fourth with a double play ball and the Yankees took advantage a half inning later. Robinson Cano reached on a Garza error and moved to second on Jose Molina's sacrifice bunt. Johnny Damon brought him home with a triple to center, and he in turn would score on a Jeter ground out, for a 5-1 lead. Hideki Matsui added an insurance RBI single in the sixth as Trevor Miller replaced Garza.

Mussina exited the game after allowing back to back doubles to Gabe Gross and Shawn Riggans to start the seventh. But unlike Saturday's fiasco with Toronto, the Yankees were not going to blow this 6-2 lead. Damaso Marte allowed a single to put runners on the corners, but then struck out B.J. Upton swinging, and Carlos Pena looking for the first two outs. Joe Girardi was then able to revert back to the beginning of the season by bringing in Joba Chamberlain to face Rocco Baldelli. Chamberlain picked right up where he left off the last time he was in the pen, retiring Baldelli on an inning ending ground out.

The Yankees would add one more run in the eighth on Alex Rodriguez's 548th career home run, tying him with Mike Schmidt for 12th place on the all-time home run list. Reggie Jackson is next in line, but it will take 15 home runs to catch him.

News and Notes

Dan Giese was activated from the 15-day DL before the game and pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Xavier Nady is hitting .299 with 9 home runs and 27 RBI in 35 games as a Yankee.

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