Each time Mike Mussina takes the mound I think, "Okay, he's going to get ripped tonight." That's just the way it goes with aging control pitchers (just ask Paul Byrd). Much to my delight, Mussina delivered his best outing since beating the Diamondbacks in mid-June, holding the Indians to just two runs in 7.2 innings. It was his fourth good start in-a-row as the Yankees bombed the Tribe, 11-2. Hot fun in the summertime. For Mussina, it was victory #100 with the Yankees, who are now 22-8 since the All-Star break. Boston still has a five game lead in the AL East, and New York trail the Mariners by the slimmest of margins for first place in the wild card standings.
The Yanks drained any tension from the game in the second innings, scoring seven runs off Byrd. Cleveland's offense was jumpy, swinging early in the count all night long, a dream for Mussina. Really, the most entertaining moments of the evening was watching Shelley Duncan's eyes pop out of his head with excitement as he prepared to smash forearms with Alex Rodriguez and, later, Jason Giambi after they hit home runs. Giambi's pinch-hit dinger in the ninth was a rainmaker, an absolute blast. As he returned to the dugout, Joe Torre looked up at his slugger, headcocked to the side, with a perfectly deadpan as if to say, "Are you kidding me?" Meanwhile, Duncan was in the background, shaking like Beavis on a sugar high, ready to pop his forearm into one of the big sluggers who might actually like that sort of thing.
Jose Molina had the first four-hit game of his career (they were all to right center field), Derek Jeter added three hits of his own, and Robby Cano and Bobby Abreu are still rolling. Oh yeah, Rodriguez hit two home runs, giving him 39 for the year, along with 114 RBI. The first one looked like a line drive double to straight-away center--the ball was in on his fists some. But dude is so strong he simply muscled it over the fence. In the YES booth, Paul O'Neill mentioned how envious he was of Rodriguez. The ball just comes off his bat in a way that it doesn't for other players, even other star players.
Yanks go for the sweep this afternoon then return home to face the Orioles and Tigers. Ian Kennedy could start in the BX on Tuesday.
Winning another series is a beautiful thing but a series sweep would make for a wunnerful Sunday, wouldn't ya say?