Okay, so the Yankee bats didn't exactly light it up against James Shields. They scored two runs. But it was enough to beat the Rays as Mike Mussina delivered and the Bombers won, 2-1. Mussina pitched slow and slower last night and it was a thing of beauty to watch.
"Whether it's Joba throwing 96 or me throwing 86, they have to gear their approach to whatever speed is coming," Mussina said. "Well, if I can make them gear from 68 up to 85 or 86, that's a big spread. No matter how hard the top is, the spread is pretty large.
"And if I can throw changeups for strikes at 70 miles an hour, and dump curveballs in there for strikes at 70, and work in between throw sinkers at 81-82, throw cutters at 81-82, throw fastballs at 85-86 then that makes it hard on them, no matter what the speed is.
"I'm not going to strike out 10 guys a game, and I know that. But I can mess with them enough that they're not going to get the swing that they want to get. And that's all I'm trying to do."
(Kepner, N.Y. Times)
The Yanks had some luck too when Gabe Gross lined into a double play to get Ross Olendorf out of trouble in the seventh. Gross hit the ball hard, but it was right at Jeter, who quickly flipped to Robinson Cano (four hits, Robinson Cano!) to double Cliff Floyd off second. Joba Chamberlian struck out the side in the eighth and Mariano Rivera was back to putting heads to bed in the ninth, notching his 11th save. Hey, a win is a win, right?
Especially with Hank itching to show that his bite backs up his bark. Here's more from the Son of Steinbrenner, as reported by Bill Madden in the Daily News:
This is what the new "Hammerin' Hank" had to say to me Wednesday when I reached him in Tampa with the greeting: "How 'bout those Rays!":
"They're a great story down here right now," he said, "although it's terrible that they're only drawing only 16,000 a game. They're playing a lot better than us, that's for sure. I know we're gonna come on at some point in this season, but right now, other than (Chien-Ming) Wang, (Mariano) Rivera, (Derek) Jeter, (Hideki) Matsui, (Johnny) Damon and (Mike) Mussina, after I got on him a little, we're not doing jack (bleep).
"What bothers me is that these guys are all working for me and my brother and they're all making more money than we are. That's what makes me mad. But while I'm confident they'll come around, we'll just have to wait and see what happens this year. And if they don't come around then changes will have to be made. I've just got to clean up the mistakes of the last five years and make us what we should be."