The Yankees scored five runs in the first three innings last night against Kelvim Escobar, but it didn't much matter. Mike Mussina, who was throwing 86-mile-per-hour fastballs and an assortment of hanging curveballs, didn't make it out of the second inning, and Ron Villone, who replaced him, only managed to record one out.
Mussina put the Yanks in a 7-1 hole after two. The Yanks rallied to make it 7-5 heading into the bottom of the third, but Villone, who got the final out of the second in relief of Mussina, loaded the bases with none out then walked in the eighth Angel run. Looking to keep his team in the game on the heels of their rally, Joe Torre called on Edwar Ramirez to minimize the damage. It was a gutsy move, and it almost paid off. Hideki Matsui ran down an Orlando Cabrera drive tailing toward the left field corner to turn a would be extra-base hit into a sac fly for the first out. Ramirez struck out Vlad Guerrero for the second out, but then he fell in love with his changeup against Garrett Anderson. Anderson took the first three changeups to get ahead 2-1, swung over the fourth, then parked the fifth in the left field seats for a three-run homer that made it 12-5 and put the game back out of reach.
Ramirez allowed another run in the fourth, though he did strike out four men in his two innings of work, including Guerrero twice. Sean Henn then came on to take one for the team, allowing five more runs in the sixth, the capper being a Garret Anderson grand slam that gave Anderson a franchise record ten RBIs on the night. The Yankees got four consolation runs off rookie reliever Marcus Gwyn in the top of the ninth on homers by Wilson Betemit, a three-run shot, and Alex Rodriguez, his second solo shot of the game and third tater of the series, to put the final score at 18-9.
Mussina's start (1 2/3 IP, 7 R) was his worst in his seven years with the Yankees and one of just four starts in his 17-year major league career in which he failed to complete two innings. Mussina is now 0-6 in seven starts following Yankee losses this season. The most impressive part of Mussina's night was that he faced the media after the game and offered no excuses.
And so the Yankees are four games behind the Wild Card-leading Mariners in the loss column. The good news? They've got their ace, Andy Pettitte, going tonight followed by a day off.