The Yanks can get an easy series win tonight of Mike Mussina can pick up where he left off in Toronto. Moose returned to the rotation with 5 2/3 shutout innings last Wednesday. Of course he walked three, struck out only one, and got a great deal of help from his defense, but considering how quickly things went all kablooey on him and the resulting jolt to his confidence, it's not impossible that a few innings of good fortune could turn things around just as quickly by confirming his belief that he does in fact still know how to pitch.
Opposing Moose will be Jon Leicester, a 28-year-old righty who had a solid rookie season in the Cubs bullpen in 2004, but pitched his way off the team the following April, struggled in the triple-A rotation, was flipped to the Rangers that winter, lost the 2006 season to a knee injury, joined the Orioles as a minor league free agent, suffered a shoulder injury in May, and has been fighting his way back through the Orioles' minor league system since returning to action in July. Leicester, who posted a 2.29 ERA in 74 2/3 innings across three minor league levels this year (most of them coming in triple-A), will be making his third start for the O's. He beat the Red Sox and Angels in his first two, but for vastly different reasons. Against the Sox he gave up four runs in five innings, but his offense scored eight off Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2 2/3 and went on to a 11-5 win. Against the Angels, however, he turned in an outing that was nearly identical to Mussina's outing in Toronto.
Doug Mienkiewicz, who is 3 for 4 with a pair of walks over the last two games, gets his third straight start today, with Jason Giambi being the odd man out (Matsui plays left, Damon DH).