On an unseasonably cool June evning in the Bronx, the stage was set for Mike Mussina to have a productive night. Home plate umpire Tim Welke was calling strikes--though he still managed to irk the Yankees' starting pitcher--and the opposing team was hacking. Mussina came through, pitching into the eighth inning, striking out a season-high seven batters. Although his fastball didn't break 90 mph, Mussina painted the corners, had good control and a sharp breaking ball.
"His stuff seemed real similar to what I've seen in the past," said Eric Byrnes, who was 1 for 4. "People talk about how his stuff's declined, but obviously it didn't look like that tonight. He comes right at you and throws strikes. He made us get ourselves out, and we continued to do that all night." (N.Y. Times)
"It's all about keeping us off balance, and that's exactly what he did," [Chad] Tracy said. "He took something off his fastball at times, put something on his fastball, in and out, up and down. He did his job." (Arizona Republic)
Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Godziller Matsui all homered as the Yankees cruised to a 7-2 win, their eighth straight victory. Combined with a Red Sox loss, the Yanks now trail Boston by 8.5 games.
Rodriguez's home run hit off the facing of the upper deck in left field. "You never had to look twice," said Joe Torre. "He killed that ball." Rodriguez now has 25 dingers--a number he didn't reach until the middle of August last year--and 66 RBI. Mmm, Mmm Good.