|New York's Mike Mussina allowed the Blue Jays only five singles in his first start since Aug. 27. (MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS)|
Yankees win 7th straight
Mussina's return grounds Toronto
TORONTO - Two weeks after he was dropped from the rotation, Mike Mussina made a strong pitch to rejoin the starting five.
Mussina pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning and the New York Yankees won their seventh straight game, beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-1, last night.
"He was terrific," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He stayed ahead most of the night. I'm just really pleased and I know he's happy about it."
The Yankees held their four-game lead over Detroit in the AL wild-card race. They trail Boston by five games in the AL East.
Mussina (9-10) was dropped from the rotation in late August after allowing 19 earned runs over 9 2/3 innings in three straight losses. He made one relief appearance after that, his first ever in a regular-season game.
"It's a lot more satisfying today, coming out of the game, than it was those other starts," Mussina said. "When I look back on this year, those three games are probably going to ruin my year. I've got to live with that and move on from it."
With Roger Clemens nursing a sore elbow, Mussina made his first start since Aug. 27 and gave up five singles in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out one, walked three, and won for the first time since Aug. 11 at Cleveland.
"I had some movement on my pitches," Mussina said. "I was able to get in on people. When I got them to a two-strike count, I could expand the zone a little bit and get some ground balls or fly balls. The stuff that I couldn't do before, I was able to do today."
Torre said he would discuss Mussina's status with pitching coach Ron Guidry after Clemens throws in the bullpen before today's series finale. If he's healthy, Clemens is expected to pitch Sunday in Boston.
"Certainly, Moose showed us that we can send him out there and he's back to being the kind of pitcher that we know he is," Torre said.
Making his 500th career appearance, Mussina said he hoped to leave an impression on the Yankees coaching staff.
"I just reminded them that I'm still here and I can still pitch," Mussina said. "Hopefully, the guys making those decisions will give me a chance to get back out there a couple more times."
Mussina improved to 22-11 in 40 career starts against Toronto, the team he's beaten the most in his career. The Blue Jays lost their fifth in a row overall.