With only 47 games remaining this year, Mike Mussina continues on the road to his first 20-win season, as he improved his record to 15-7 last night when the Yankees defeated the Rangers, 3-0, to earn a split in their four-game series in Texas.
Mussina said after the game, “I didn’t have my best stuff”, but “kept going with what I had”. It was enough stuff, though, to throw 99 pitches over 7 strong scoreless innings, allowing 8 hits, one walk, and striking out six. This win lowered Mussina’s ERA to 3.27.
Clearly, the Yankees would be out of the race for first place in the AL EAST, if Mussina was not pitching as well as he is. He was not chosen for the 2008 AL All-Star team, but at the end of this great season, Mike Mussina could be collecting both the Cy Young Award and MVP Award. Mariano Rivera will also be in contention for these two awards, as both Moose and Mo are the MVP’s of this Yankees team.
This game was another must-win situation for the Bombers, so they could split the series with Texas, and go into the weekend series with the L.A. Angels on a two-game winning streak.
Mike Mussina, and the Yankees bullpen, including Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 28th save, led the way to victory by shutting-out the Rangers who are the best hitting team in the American League.
Derek Jeter had a big game, going (3-for-4), including a first inning homerun that gave the Yankees a quick 1-0 lead. Johnny Damon (2-for-5) drove home the Yanks second run in the 5th inning. And, Jeter completed the scoring with a RBI single in the 9th, driving home Robinson Cano (3-for-4), who led off the inning with a double, for the third and final run of the game.
It’s important that all three, Jeter (.286 BA); Damon (.318); and Cano (.266) continue their hot hitting the rest of the season, and, also, driving home runs in clutch situations. The pitching staff has done their job keeping the Yankees in this pennant race up to this point. The hitters now have to “literally” step up to the plate, and start scoring some runs, to complement the great Yankee pitching so far this season.
The Yankees are now (63-52), six games behind the first place Tampa Bay Rays; and, three games behind the second place Boston Red Sox.
The L.A. Angels (71-43) are next up on the schedule, as the Yankees play three games this weekend against the AL’s leading winning team.
It will be Ian Kennedy in (game 1); Dan Giese (game 2); and, Andy Pettitte in (game 3), of yet another important series for the Bronx Bombers.
So, the 10-game road trip continues, as the Yankees are (2-2) going into L.A.