Then the relievers, including Mariano Rivera, almost gave the
game away Friday night.
"Luckily, we had a big lead," Torre said after New York held
on for an 8-7 victory at Texas, ending the Rangers' six-game
Mussina was pulled after allowing only his third hit, a single
by Kevin Mench to start the eighth on the right-hander's 86th
pitch. Mench's RBI single off the fourth pitcher in the inning
finally capped the six-run outburst.
"At the time, I didn't think about it either way," Mussina
said about being pulled. "I'm going to throw a lot of pitches over
the course of the year. Could I have thrown 10 or 12 or 15 more?
"If the guys behind me would have come in and been smooth,
nobody would have thought anything of it."
It was anything but.
Aaron Small allowed three singles and three runs, facing only
four batters. Kyle Farnsworth struck out Mark Teixeira with the
bases loaded, then walked Phil Nevin before Rivera took over and
allowed Hank Blalock's two-run single.
"When they started scoring those runs, it was like a
snowball," said Alex Rodriguez, who drove in three runs against
his former team. "That reminds you of two things: how much their
guys can hit and how well Mussina pitched."
After Mench's RBI single, Rivera hit a batter before finally
getting Rod Barajas on an inning-ending fielder's choice with the
bases still loaded. Rivera worked the ninth to finish his sixth
save in seven chances.
"We don't want it to go that way, but that's baseball," Rivera
said. "That happens."
Mussina (5-1) threw 62 of his season-low 86 pitches for strikes
for his 229th career victory, fourth most among active pitchers. He
struck out five, didn't walk a batter and was charged with two
"He was terrific, threw a lot of strikes, got a lot of
first-pitch outs and changed speeds. I love it," Torre said. "All
said and done, we won the game and didn't have to drain our
Especially with Mussina scheduled to start against the Boston
Red Sox next week.
Derek Jeter was 2-for-5 with two RBI and scored twice for the
Yankees, who moved five games over .500 for the first time this
season at 16-11.
Brad Wilkerson extended his hitting streak to eight games with a
leadoff triple in the third over Johnny Damon's head in center
field. Wilkerson was the only Texas runner to get past first while
Mussina was on the mound, and scored when Barajas grounded out.
For the first time in 11 games -- eight of them victories -- the
Yankees never trailed.
Rangers starter Vicente Padilla (3-2) gave up consecutive
singles to Damon and Jeter to start a 39-pitch first inning. The
right-hander walked three in the frame, including Jorge Posada with
the bases loaded for a 2-0 lead after Rodriguez reached on a
fielder's choice that drove in a run.
Padilla retired seven in a row after walking Posada, but the
Yankees batted around against Padilla in the fourth before he was
finally pulled after Rodriguez made it 7-1 with a two-run single.
"We dug ourselves a pretty big hole early on, but almost got
out of it," manager Buck Showalter said.
Each time Rodriguez batted -- he went 2-for-4 with a walk to
break a 2-for-22 skid -- he was greeted with a loud chorus of boos.
A-Rod spent three seasons in Texas, where he won his first AL MVP
award in 2003 before being traded to the Yankees the following
The Rangers fans cheered when Rodriguez was charged with an
error in the sixth.
In the Yankees' five-run fourth, Damon hit a flyball deep into
the left-field corner with the bases loaded. The ball appeared to
go in Wilkerson's glove, but dropped out as he got close to the
wall, though only one run scored.
Wilkerson was back in the lineup a night after suffering a mild
concussion when he crashed hard into the wall on a catch against
Baltimore, and had to leave the game.
Jeter then hit a potential double-play grounder, but third
baseman Hank Blalock's throw was wide of second, allowing a run.
Rodriguez got his two-run single after Jason Giambi drew his second
walk of the game -- and AL-leading 32nd.
Padilla struck out four and walked five while allowing seven
runs (four earned) and six hits in 3 2-3 innings.
RF Gary Sheffield was in the Yankees lineup for the first
time in five games since his collision with Toronto's Shea
Hillenbrand left him with a bruised left wrist. He was 0-for-5
before Bubba Crosby replaced him in the bottom of the eighth. ...
Wilkerson is hitting .464 (13-for-28) during his hitting streak.
... The Rangers wore special jerseys commemorating Cinco de Mayo
that had "Los Rangers" on the front. The jerseys were being
raffled off after the game.