10/12/2003 9:23 PM ET
A matter of inches for Mussina
Yankees' new Game 4 starter won't change approach
BOSTON -- Mike Mussina's pitching line for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series wasn't particularly pretty.
By Kevin Czerwinski / MLB.com
While the New York right-hander admits he had some control problems on that night at Yankee Stadium, he isn't about to give in to that line, isn't about to say he pitched poorly. And to a degree, he has a point. A few inches here, a few inches there and Mussina and the Yanks might very well be looking back on that game as a victory.
Mussina will get the nod in Game 4 at Fenway Park, eager to prove that his performance earlier in the series was more the exception rather than the norm. Mussina was originally
scheduled to start Game 5 but manager Joe Torre preferred to keep him on a five-day schedule and therefore he will start Monday as planned after Game 4 was rained out Sunday. David Wells was bumped back a day and will now start Game 5 for the Bombers.
The Moose, who is 0-2 in a pair of postseason starts this year, lasted 5 2/3 innings in the Bronx, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, three of which were home runs. David Ortiz blasted a two-run homer after a Manny Ramirez infield hit that glanced off Mussina's glove. The homer
came on a 3-2 pitch after Mussina started out 0-2.
Todd Walker then rang a blast off the foul pole in right field before Ramirez added a solo shot of his own that just cleared the wall in right.
"I don't think I would try to do anything differently," said Mussina, who is 4-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 11 postseason starts during his career. "I didn't have the best command of the baseball that day. So if you can't command the baseball, there's some things you can't do or you try to
do and it just doesn't happen the way you would like it to. But I don't think I would approach it any differently.
"You make pitches and a guy hits one off the foul pole and [another hits one to the] opposite field that goes two feet over the fence, [and the] ball off the end of my glove for an infield hit. It's really close to being one or two runs instead of four. So no, I wouldn't change anything."
More glaring for Mussina than the three homers allowed were the 106 pitches he threw, the deep counts in which he found himself and the two walks he surrendered in the second inning. His 1.7 walks per nine innings ranked fifth in the American League. Yet he has already walked five batters in 12 2/3 innings this postseason.
While that number is certainly alarming, Mussina didn't seem too concerned. He'll be pitching on normal rest -- he went on seven days rest in Game 1 -- a fact he says should make a difference this time around.
"I don't plan on making too many adjustments," Mussina said. "I'm going to pitch the game I've always pitched and I'm trying to be effective with it. Being on five days rest is also better than seven or eight days, so that will be a lot more like normal.
"We face teams in back-to-back starts more than one time during the year. As the starting pitcher you have to remember that the other team has faced three or four or five starters in between the two starts that I'm going to make, for example. So you just have to remember that they are not facing you six or seven at-bats in a row. They have seen a few other pitchers for a couple of games."
The Red Sox couldn't sustain any attack against Andy Pettitte in Game 2 and were confounded by Roger Clemens for much of Game 3. Whether they will be able to recover Monday against Mussina and scratch out the kind of hits they had off him in the series opener remains to be seen.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.