Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mussina's Quality Topples Rays, 9-1 (4/26)

Torrid Jeter Provides Offense

The prior two seasons have been physically tough ones for Mike Mussina. Elbow pain has restricted his ability to throw all his pitches and caused him to miss his spots. And if Mike Mussina can't follow his game plan, he's lost. That's not been the case this season however. Pitching pain-free, Mussina produced his 5th quality start in as many games. He limited the Rays to 4 hits over 6 plus innings. Mussina didn't walk a batter for the second straight game and struck out 7. For the season Mussina has allowed just 27 hits and 6 walks in 33 innings, while striking out 30 and has a 2.45 earned run average.

The Yankees offense meanwhile jumped on Rays starter Scott Kazmir immediately. Johnny Gomes had staked the Rays to a 1-0 lead with his AL leading 10th home run in the top of the first. Johnny Damon worked a walk off of the former Met, and then Derek Jeter smacked an 0-2 pitch in right to put the Yankees ahead for good.

Already leading 3-1 in the fourth, the Yankees added another on Johnny Damon's sacrifice fly. With one out Andy Phillips walked and Miguel Cairo hit his second double of the game before Damon flew out to deep center.

The Rays posed a threat in the fifth when Ty Wiggington and Toby Hall sandwiched singles around a Russell Branyan strike out. But gold glove winner Mussina speared comebackers by Tomas Perez and Nick Green to end the rally.

The Yankees broke the game open in the sixth against relievers Scott Dunn and Rudy Lugo. After a Cairo walk and a Damon double, Jeter singled through the left side for a 5-1 lead. Gary Sheffield singled in another run off of Lugo before Jason Giambi delivered a 2-out, 2-run double for an 8-1 lead.

Mussina cruised along until he allowed a lead off single to Huff in the 7th. With 101 pitches thrown, Joe Torre opted to shut down Mussina, who left to a standing ovation, for the rest of the night. Tanyon Sturtze, Ron Villone, and Scott Proctor threw one inning each to complete the victory.


Derek Jeter's 3 hits raised his average up to .391, second only to Miguel Tejada.

In addition to his 2-run double, Jason Giambi later added a sacrifice fly, giving him 8 RBI over the last two games.

Miguel Cairo got the start at second base despite Robinson Cano having a red hot bat. Joe Torre wanted to give Cairo some playing time and figured playing against a tough left-hander like Kazmir was the right time.

Mussina's victory was the 227th of his career.

Carl Crawford (grandmother's funeral), Jorge Cantu (sore foot), and Aubrey Huff (15-day disabled list) were all out of the Devil Rays lineup last night. Only Crawford is guaranteed to play this evening.

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