Interview with Mike Mussina
Yankees right-hander talks before his Game 1 start
Can you update us on just how you feel physically going into this start?
Mike Mussina: I feel fine. I feel the same as I felt last couple of times I've been out there -- there's no difference. I'm not concerned about it.
You said between the last two starts, you had real good command of the first one and you had none the second one. How do you go about figuring out or working on getting that better for this start?
Mussina: Tomorrow is the game. I can't work on it between now and tomorrow.
How do you feel about --
Mussina: I'm not worried about it. I mean, you can't worry about it. I'll just go out there and pitch with whatever I have.
I have plenty of rest. I didn't have to pitch yesterday in the last game of the season. I'm sure it can do nothing but help me. I'm not concerned about it.
You've been very consistent over the course of your career obviously this year the consistency has not been there, how frustrating has the season been for you?
Mussina: It's frustrating. It was frustrating last year. I had an injury last year that kept me out five or six weeks in the summertime, and it's frustrating when you're accustomed to going out there 33 times and pitching 215 or 220 innings. It gets frustrating when you have to deal with this stuff.
At the same time, when I was going out there, I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well, and until my arm bothered me to the point where I just couldn't do it anymore, that's when things really started coming apart, and that's when we finally had to stop throwing.
Any thoughts about facing the Angels lineup this year? In three starts this year, they hit .301 against you. Your thoughts about them as a whole?
Mussina: Well, they are obviously a very good team. They don't strike out very much. They put the ball in play. They use the field. Guys in the middle of the lineup, they can drive the ball, [like] Garrett Anderson. It's obviously a challenge with Figgins at the top and getting on base and making things happen when he has to. We have to do our best to hold them down and keep them off base and try not to let them get any big innings going on us.
You know, just pitch the best games we can and play the best games we can. When you get to this point, everybody is a good team, and that's all kind of ways that you can win a game or you can lose a game. So we just have to go out and play our best game and hope it's better than theirs.
In that aspect it sounds like to you they were pretty similar like they were in 2002. Do you see many differences in their approach, and how do you use their experience against them to get the advantage?
Mussina: Well, you know, they have a lot of players that have been in the post season, and we obviously have a lot of players that have been in the post season. You go out there, it's a five game series. A lot of things can happen in a five game series. It's a very short period of time. You just hope that your team is the hot team; that you pitch well; that you hit well; that you don't make too many mistakes, because everything gets magnified in the postseason.
You know, we've been playing well. They have been playing well here at the end of the season. So I think you've got two hot teams going into this series and it's going to be a tough series.
Knowing how much they like to run and how aggressive they are on the bases, how important is it for you and the rest of the pitchers to keep them close and do what you can to make sure they are not stealing or running as much?
Can you just talk about pitching on the road, just your mindset?
Mussina: I think most circumstances, when you get to this point, it doesn't matter whether you start at home or on the road. We've all played a full season and long careers and we've played all man away. So the bases are the same, the mound is the same distance from the plate. The only difference is that most of the people in the stands are rooting for them instead of rooting for us. Just have to go out there and play the game and see if we can see if we can win a few on the road.
I know I've had a couple of opportunities on the road before. I pitched Game 1 in the World Series; pitched Game 3 in the Division Series in Oakland. You have to be able to do both. You can't just be able to pitch at home. You have to be able to go out on the road and win games if you want to win this thing, and that's what we're looking to do.
In what ways are the Yankees a better team now, if so, than when you played the Angels earlier in the year and the middle of the summer? Obviously there are different people involved. Do you feel like you're a better team now than when you played them the last time?
Mussina: I think we feel like we're a better team now than when we played them the first time. We're obviously a better team now than we were the first half of the season, and whether we're doing things better or we just feel better about ourselves, either way, I don't think it really matters.
We just go out there and we know we're playing good baseball and we know that we can score runs. We know that we can play defense, we know that we can pitch. We know our starters can get far enough into the game, we know we have help in the pen, we know we have Mariano at the end. So all of those things put together, if things play out the way we want them to, then we like our chances.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.