Yankees 6 Twins 5: Mussina Settles In, Offense Heats Up

Other than a rough first, Mike Mussina had a very good six-inning stint. The offense was excellent in coming back from a 4-1 deficit despite squandering some chances. Mariano capped some bullpen instability last night with a typically outstanding inning, nailing down a big 6-5 win over the Twins in the first of four games in Minnesota. Lots of fun last night in the HDLR. Many thanks to everyone who dropped by, and safe travels to Tim the Wizard, who leaves today for India, Vietnam, and other ports of call. As that immortal 20th century philosopher, Bugs Bunny, would say, “Hasty Bananas!”

The Yanks started last night’s game well, scoring right away in the first. Abreu walked and stole second as part of a huge night for him, and Matsui flung out his bat and blooped a single into shallow left with Abreu running hard all the way, 1-0 Yanks. It didn’t last long as the Twins scored four, aided by some shoddy defense. Casilla singled, Mauer walked. Morneau hit an easy grounder to Duncan at first and, as he tried to throw to second for at least a force, threw it away and pulled Jeter off the bag, E3, everyone safe. Oh, to have a first baseman who can turn a 3-6-3. Conecutive RBI singles from Cuddyer, Kubel, and Young made it 3-1 with the bases still loaded. Jeter then made an outstanding lunging snare of Lamb’s hard-hit grounder, reaching to his right then flipping the ball backwards to Cano for the force at second, 4-1 but probably saved a run, which was huge in this game. Mussina then escaped with a come-backer, but not before surrendering four runs two earned on 36 pitches.

The Yanks got consecutive two-out singles from Molina and Melky, but Jeter’s impatience again resurfaced, swinging at the first pitch and grounding out to third. The Yankees sliced the lead to two in the third when Abreu led off with a triple and A-Rod singled him in. But Matsui’s 4-6-3 erased them, and Giambi banged a deep single that he poorly decided to stretch into a double and was out by 15 feet. STUPID. Mussina helped his own cause with an eight-pitch third. Excellent run manufacturing from the Yanks tied it at 4 in the fourth. Duncan worked a lead-off walk, Cano singled, Molina bunted them over, and Melky hit a single to left-center to tie the game. Excellent. Yet Melky then got picked off trying for second, and Jeter’s out ended the rally. Still, the Yankees erased the deficit fairly quickly, and Mussina’s 1-2-3 fourth made it eight straight he retired. The momentum had surely turned.

The Yanks took the lead in the top of the fifth when Abreu singled and A-Rod laced a double to center in a great, nine-pitch at-bat, 5-4 Yankees. Matsui’s single to right made it first and third and no outs, but Giambi scalded a ball up the middle that relief pitcher Brian Bass snagged between his legs, catching A-Rod understandably off third since such a hit would almost always score that run. Betemit “pinch-hit” for Duncan and fanned looking, then Cano himself was impatient and grounded out on the first pitch to end what could have been a big inning. Still, 5-4 Yanks wasn’t bad. Morneau’s two-out single in the fifth ended a string of 10 consecutive batters that Mussina retired, and he then worked a 1-2-3 sixth, impressively retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. After a rough first, Moose was excellent, going six and scattering six hits and a walk, allowing four runs two earned, and fanning four on 109 pitches/73 strikes while lowering his ERA to 4.26.

The Yanks added a big insurance run in the seventh when Abreu ripped his second triple of the game, A-Rod was HBP, and Matsui’s hard-hit ground ball was too hot for the shortstop to handle, 6-4 Yanks with no outs and first and second. But rotund lefty Reyes escaped by fanning Giambi, and Betemit’s deep F9 occurred as A-Rod was running to third and he was easily doubled off second. Veras entered and promptly walked nine-hole hitter Harris, who then reached second when he wisely backed off on a DP ball to Cano, who threw to just nab the speedy Gomez at first but it allowed Harris to reach second. The smarter play for Cano would have been to get at least one by running quickly right at Harris and trying for Gomez afterwards. It mattered little after Edwar entered and retired Casilla and Mauer on fly outs. Edwar still has an ERA of 0.00 after last night’s appearance, amazing work from the kid.

Nuke then entered and surrendered his eighth homer of the year on an 0-2 letter-high fastball carelessly delivered, 6-5. Yet Nuke them settled down to retire the next three. After Giambi and Betemit stranded A-Rod after his one-out double and Matsui’s IBB, Mariano came on and shut it down. He got Lamb on a one-pitch come-backer, walked nine-hole hitter Harris, but fanned Gomez swinging and pinch-hitter Monroe looking on a picture-perfect cutter at the knees and on the outside corner. Harris really should have been the second out, since Mariano threw a perfect cutter at the knees on e3-2, but home plate up Meals must have been getting paid by the pitch counts, for he called it a ball. No matter, the Yanks peeled out of there with the first win of the series to yet again even their mark at .500, closing the first 1/3 of the year with a 27-27 record.

The bats really came alive last night. Abreu was the hitting star, going 3-4 with four runs, two triples, and a walk to up his average to .296. A-Rod and Matsui were each 3-4 with 2 RBIs apiece. A-Rod now has 19 RBIs and a .291 average, and Matsui 26 RBIs, and a league-leading .339 average. Matsui is now 17 for his last 31, raising his average 42 points in his last eight games alone. The 2-3-4 hitters were 9-12 last night with 4 runs and 4 RBIs, carrying the offense. The bottom of the order was productive as well, with Molina going 2-3 with a sac to up his average to .219, and Melky 3-4 with 2 RBIs, his 23rd of the year to raise his average to .266. Giambi and Cano added a single apiece. Of the team’s 16 hits, 12 were singles. While I love the extra-base hits, I also love the quantity of hits and the fact that they were fairly spread out. Jeter’s hand must be bothering him, for his 0-5 night makes him 3 for his last 37, lowering his average to .272. Duncan and Betemit were a combined 0-4.

Tonight, the Yankees close out May by trying to make it three straight wins, and to push themselves above the .500 mark for the first time since May 4, when the Yanks completed a sweep of Seattle to go to 17-16 on the year. New York sends staff ace CMW (6-2, 3.82 ERA) to the hill against Boof Bonser (2-6, 6.16 ERA).

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Published in: on May 31, 2008 at 8:21 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. has it really been since may 4th that we were over .500? wow. it just shows how long it takes to dig yourself out of even the smallest holes. lets hope the team never looks back and can build a nice cushion over the next 2 weeks.
    lots of fun last night despite the sloppy play…

  2. With A-Rod back, Jorge on his way back, and the rotation settling in, the Yankees should be able to get on a hot streak and get back into this division race. The good news is they are only 5.5 out.

    http://myteamrivals.typepad.com/thebronxdaily/

    http://myteamrivals.typepad.com/yankeesredsox/

  3. Hey, Jason!

    Derek Jeter’s great defensive play in the first inning was “the key play” in this game. After the game, Mike Mussina said, “without that play, it could have been a 7 or 8 run inning”…

    Mussina was great after the 4 run (2 unearned) first inning. He then pitched five scoreless innings, while the Yankees scored enough runs to take the lead , and put Mussina in position to get the win. And, even though Kyle Farnsworth made it interesting [once again] when he gave up the homerun in the bottom of the 8th, Mariano closed out the game recording his 14th save …

    I think my prediction of 15 wins by Mussina this year may have been a little off the mark. With 8 wins so far, Mike Mussina is well on his way to his first 20 win season. Just consider: Mussina didn’t get his 8th win until the middle of August last year…

    At the pace he is now on, Mussina can have 13 wins by the all-star break; and, actually be selected as an All Star on the AL pitchng staff…

    Also, by the end of this year, Mike Mussina will have about 270 career wins. If he pitches two more years after 2008 [with the Yankees?, or some other team?] he just might get 300 wins. If Mussina stays healthy, who knows? 300 wins? …

    If Mike Mussina joins the 300 win club, that will be his ticket into Baseball’s “Hall of Fame” !!!

    Interesting season [so far] … Mike Mussina and Darrell Rasner are the Yankees most effective starters … But, Joba Chamberlain’s time has come, and it will be fun to watch him become the “ace”of the pitching staff !!! …

    The new “Big Three”: Joba, Mussina, and Rasner. Now, that’s a trifecta that would have a huge payout !!!

    I’m watching the game right now, and Kyle Farnsworth just entered the game, to pitch the bottom of the 9th … First batter: strikeout [one out] …

    Morneau, 0-2 pitch [just like last night when he hit a HR], groundout to first – Great play by Giambi … 2 outs

    Next batter: STRIKEOUT !!!

    1-2-3 innng for Farnsworth … nice pitching !!!

    We go to extra inings …

    Yankees 6, Twins 6

    Well, Jason … that’s it for now. Hopefully, the Yankees win this game. It’s looks like a night for another Mariano Rivera “save” !!!

    P.S. – No! A-Rod !!! Come-on. How can he get picked off at second, like that !!! … With the AL’s leading hitter up – Hideki Matsui … A-Rod looked like Jose Reyes, on that play…
    Matsui then makes the final out of the inning…

    Bottom of the 10th…

    Yanks 6, Twins 6 – Ohlendorf now pitching.

    Take care, Jason !

    – Jimmy [27NYY]

    http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

  4. hope the little guy is sleeping OK- will see you in the HDLR- or at your recap. great win- you brought us much needed luck

    the drag bunt to chariots of fire-classic

  5. Hard to believe but true, Mike. Today they’re finally over .500 for the first time in nearly a month. I hope last night’s win provides this team a much-needed boost for the team. I also hope they solve the recent spate of defensive miscues.

    A hot streak would definitely be in order, Bill. They’re due for that. A-Rod has been a difference maker, without question. He’s been driving in runs steadily lately, and the ripple effect he has had on the lineup has been enormous–Abreu and Matsui especially.

    I agree about Mussina’s performance, Jimmy. He was very good, and a good deal of what occurred in the first wasn’t even his fault. I still think expecting 15 wins from Mussina might be high-end, but he’s making it look more and more possible with his good performances. As long as he gets some run support to go with quality starts, he’s got a shot. About 300 wins, I’m not sure that will occur. That would likely take two more excellent years, and that’s a lot to ask at his age and with his stuff. But I do think his stock has risen in the steroids era. I’d love to see him win 20 at his age this year, but will settle for your original prediction. I’m not happy about the blowback on the bullpen that Joba’s starting has had, not unexpectedly I might add. But Joba should be starting at some point, and the Yanks have talented young arms to call up. Especially with Nuke’s struggles, I fully expect to see Robertson, Cox, Melancon, and perhaps Patterson get a crack in The Bronx. Why Britton has not had the chance to pitch, I have no idea.

    The little guy settled back in nicely, Mike. Thanks for asking and, though I’m not sure I brought any luck, I’m glad my arrival coincided with some success and brighter spirits. My good timing, I suppose.


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