You have to give huge props to Mike Mussina.
Yesterday’s victory tied Mussina (10-4) with Cleveland’s Cliff Lee for the most wins in the American League. Moose is 9-1, 3.25 ERA in his last 11 starts. If he isn’t on the All-Star Team, that’s a joke.
He has easily been the Yankees best starting pitcher. Be honest, there is no way you thought that was possible after last season when Mussina, 39, went 11-10, 5.15 and got bumped out of the rotation by Ian Kennedy.
Yet, here he is riding a stretch that has to be as good as any his career.
“He’s reeled off win after win and good start after good start,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Six innings, seven innings, eight innings. He’s been really, really good.”
Notoriously stubborn, you have to credit Mussina with adapting this season. He hates to pitch inside, yet has learned to ride the ball in on right-handed hitters. He has added a dead-fish, 60-something MPH changeup. He actually seems to throw more fastballs than ever, despite topping out in the mid to high 80s.
He is truly an artist at work, showing what it is to pitch and not just throw the ball and cross your fingers. I hope Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Kennedy have been paying attention.
Can Mussina, who now has an American League record 17 straight seasons of at least 10 wins, keep this up? I have no idea. It wouldn’t be entirely shocking if he imploded during the second half of the season.
Righ now, though, he sure is fun to watch.