As I detailed in my catchup post yesterday afternoon, the Yankees are giving Mike Mussina a chance to prove that he's still got something left to offer tonight primarily because having Moose start tonight pushes Andy Pettitte back for the Red Sox series and sets up Phil Hughes as a possible alternate to Roger Clemens on Sunday. It also gives them a low-risk look at Moose before they have to make any hard decisions about Clemens' elbow or taking rookies in to the postseason. With all of that in mind, this should be an interesting game. Mussina, if you need reminding, has been dreadful over his last four appearances, putting up this line:
Moose's 3 2/3 innings in relief of Roger Clemens a week ago Monday was his second longest outing in that stretch and far and away his best, despite the seven hits and two runs he allowed. The low walk and homer rates in the line above are somewhat encouraging, but that dreadful WHIP comprised almost entirely of hits is all you need to see to know how much trouble he's had getting hitters out. That, more than anything else, has been his problem, though it is worth noting that 12 of those 32 hits have been doubles, so it's not as though they're all dinks that can be blamed on bad luck and the defense.
Moose, of course, is still thinking about his four starts previous to those in which he did this:
Opposing Mussina is Dustin McGowan. McGowan is 2-0 against the Yanks this season having held them to two runs on nine hits and four walks in 14 innings across two starts. Inclusive of that last start against the Yanks in mid-July, McGowan has a 2.62 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP and a 7.47 K/9 over his last ten starts.
Combine Mussina and McGowan and tonight's game is one of those that you have to chalk up as a loss going in, setting up an exciting rubber-game duel between A.J. Burnett and rookie Ian Kennedy tomorrow night.
The lineup is unchanged tonight save for Matsui and Damon switching positions. So Moose gets Matsui and Giambi in the field. Off to a great start . . .