Posted by The Moose

Sometimes, there are moments where your back is against the wall. And you can either stand there and take it, or fight back.

Tonight, Mike Mussina fought back. Despite recent struggles for a team that has fallen hopelessly out of the playoff race, and facing a team fighting for their postseason lives, Mussina stepped up with his best start in weeks. After getting himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, Mussina had 1-2-3 innings from the third through the sixth innings. And his Yankee mates, so dormant with their bats in recent starts, backed Moose with nine runs as Mussina cruised to his 18th victory. The White Sox removed most of their starters after their half of the fifth, and Mussina was able to get through one more inning for a final line of:

6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

The win was his 268th, tying him with Oriole Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. His 18th win means he is–theoretically–still alive for 20 (but of course we’ve been here before). Although it is unknown if Joe Girardi will skip over a player to get Mussina his final start, we are confident that, should he beat Toronto, Mussina will get his shot. We are so confident in fact, that we will be blogging the Toronto start live on this site (Provided Ryan can get off of work)

Updates to all the pertinent pages are forthcoming and should be completed within half an hour. Also, for those curious, Johnny Damon missed the game to be with his wife, who gave birth earlier today to a girl, Danica. I think I speak for us all here Johnny when we say congratulations.

Please check back for an update later this week, and for the love of God, anyone who can give me concrete (Read: Quoted from Girardi himself) proof that Mussina has two more starts, please post it here. It’s worth noting that the AP story was titled “Mussina’s drive for 20 still alive”

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Also of note is the fact that Mussina’s win tonight puts him back in contention for AL Cy Young votes.  We’ve discussed at length before how the award is going to be won by Cleveland’s Cliff Lee.  But we also know there’s a logjam for the 2-6 spots consisting of KRod (who’s probably closer to #2),  the robot known as Roy Halliday, A.J.Burnett, Ervin Santana, Dike K and Mike Mussina.  Tonight’s win ties Mussina with Halliday and Burnett for 2nd in the AL in victories.  Dice K has 17.  Right now I’d place them:

  1. Lee
  2. Rodriguez
  3. Halliday
  4. Mussina
  5. Dice K
  6. Burnett

Burnett gets major points off for an ERA north of 4.15.  Dice K has got the pretty record of 17-2, but that’s misleading considering the rest of his stats are completely medicore.  His 90 walks are more then three times that of Moose, and they are almost equal in strikeouts (142-141).  Still that amazing record might push Dice K past Mussina, if Mussina can’t win 1 or 2 more starts this year.  It’s also possible that with the Red Soxs all but assured of a playoff birth, Terry Francona might limit Dice K’s inning and pitch totals for his remaining starts.

Patrick’s note: You’ve lost your mind on K-Rod and the people deserve to know. Also, according to new reader Leo, Mussina WILL get the final start of the seaon if he has a shot at 20

Additional note from Ryan:  I don’t think KRod deserves to finish 2nd.  I’d probably put him 3rd or 4th, but my anaylsis attempted to be objective.  The voters will give him lots of love for the saves record and the Angels domination of the AL.  That will likely be enough to push him into second.

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26 thoughts on “Game Recap 9/18 – And I’m back in the game!

  1. On the Joe Girardi Show from this week, Kay asked Girardi would bring Moose into the middle innings of a game late in the season should Moose have 19 wins. Girardi replied that he wouldn’t have to make that sort of a decision because Moose’s last start of the season would be the very last day of the season. The only way for Moose to have two more starts is for him to pitch that last day.

    However, who knows what Girardi will do if Moose doesn’t win his next start.

  2. I was at the game tonight and Moose was very good, I am so proud of him this year. Sniff sniff.

    Moose’s two starts left would be the first game of the upcoming Toronto series (the day off gives him normal rest) and they’ve said he’ll start the last game of the season if he has a crack at 20.

  3. Pat thinks Mussina is going to pitch on Wednesday and if he wins 19, make an appearance on Sunday with 3 days rest. I’d still rather see him go Tuesday (against David Purcey)/Sunday for sure then pitch Wednesday, hope for the best and then take your chances on three days rest.

  4. Illustrious–

    As I told Joy earlier, a guy at 40 who is not under contract is going to have a decision to make, and, usually, I’m loathe for speculation on people’s motivations and inner workings on personal matters. But we’ll take a stab at it

    Ryan thinks K-Rod will finish second in the AL Cy Young voting. Send him e-mails laughing at hime please

  5. Oh, I wasn’t implying that I think you should have a post analyzing his motivations, just that maybe you should make a post about his confirmation that he would indeed like to pitch next year for the Yankees if they should offer him a contract.

  6. Illustrious:

    I’m on to you and your trickery!! Ha. Well, here’s an interesting question: Does winning 20 games make him more or less likely to return? Also, if he does retire and kill this site, what other borderline HOF’er should we start talking about? I was thinking Ichiro, just because I feel he’s going to get some flack for his shorter MLB career. We’ve also discussed Whitaker, Trammel, and Tim Raines. (I’d love to Donnie Baseball, but man, even I don’t see the arguments)

  7. It was unusual that Mussina got pulled in the middle of an inning like that. Certainly he could have finished the seventh but either Girardi didn’t want to risk injury in a blowout, or he didn’t want to max him out so he can recover sooner (and possibly pitch on 9/23), or he purposely wanted to give Mussina that attention in his final goodbye at Yankee Stadium.

  8. Patrick, if I’m not mistaken, Mussina’s retirement doesn’t have to kill this site. . . but his HOF induction definitely would! 🙂

  9. Thanks for the link. I love that pic of him walking off the field for the last time at Yankee Stadium.

    Moose wins this year – 18
    Combined wins from the rest of the Yankee opening day starting rotation (Pettitte, Wang, Kennedy, Hughes) – 21
    They had best resign him.

  10. I’m pretty sure I heard Mike say, “We’ll see what happen on Tuesday” when asked about his remaining starts.

    Also about K-Rod, didn’t Bobby Thigpen only get 4th in the Cy Young voting the year he got the saves record? K-Rod doesn’t deserve any higher than that IMO. He has seven blown saves and several where he allowed a ton of inherited runners to score, including the most recent game when he allowed three!

  11. Bobby Thigpen finished 4th in the 1990 Cy voting behind Bob Welch (27 wins), Roger Clemens (21-6 1.93) and Dave Stewart (22-11 2.56). Pat also made this point before, but I argued that the 1990 season was really amazing for those three starters who finished ahead of Thigpen. Just look at those numbers! No one besides Cliff Lee is going do anything close to those.

    On principal I agree with you, but will the voters? Will they look past the headlines? We’ll delve into this much deeper after the close of the season.

  12. Sure sounds like Mike is planning to pitch next year: http://www.northjersey.com/sports/Moose_has_20-20_vision.html

    “I don’t know if I can throw out 18 wins again next year, but I’d sure like to take a shot at it somewhere, and hopefully these guys will give me a chance,” Mussina said, after posting his 18th victory in the Yankees’ 9-2 win.

    Mussina hadn’t won 18 games since 2002. He’s never won 20 games in a season, but he’ll get two more starts — Tuesday at Toronto and the regular-season finale at Boston.

    “It’s been a fun year for me,” said Mussina, who briefly was bounced from the rotation late last year, in a season riddled by nagging injuries. Earlier this year, when he struggled against Boston, co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner openly suggested that Mussina “learn to pitch more like Jamie Moyer,” the ancient Phillies’ lefty.

    Now, the Yankees could be writing Mussina a check in excess of the $11 million he made this year, in the final year of a two-year deal.

    “I think everybody knows I’m not going to go to Texas or California to pitch,” Mussina said. So, if the Yankees asked him back in 2009, “that’d be a simple answer.”

  13. Just checked out this site and I absolutely love it. Will link up to it in a future post.

    Patrick, I just responded to your comment on my Mussina article. I think a part of our confusion comes from the assessment of Bill James’ questions. The questions aren’t meant to say “if you get 10 questions that look ‘right’, you are a Hall of Famer”. Rather, it gives the person answering the question the ability to assess the full body of work and make their own assessment. That’s why, through all of that, I think Mussina is a Hall of Famer, though not a first ballot.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keltner_list <— more on the list and its purpose.

    When I see ‘player’, I see ‘over-all’ rather than specific positions, which may clear up other confusions. If I did this list eliminating any position players, then the list would look a bit different with more positive Mussina answers.

    I hope that clears up any confusion.

  14. by the way, shouldn’t Moose get some Comeback player of the year votes? I mean, come on, people were saying his career was over last year, with an ERA north of 5, now it’s 18 (+) wins and an ERA less than 3.60

  15. Cliff Lee went 5-8, 6.29 last season and was demoted to the minors. He’s dropped his ERA by four runs and is putting together, rather quietly, one of the greatest seasons in modern pitcihng history. That’s going to do it

  16. Back in the day when Randy Johnson was still in Seattle, I seem to remember him coming in from the bullpen when the M’s went ahead (last game or 2 of the season) to get his 20th win. It really ticked me off back then.

    But I’d totally be OK with it in this situation now. 🙂 People would cry foul now, but eventually it’d just be a number in a column!

  17. yeah, well, Lee is a cute choice for Comeback Player, but nobody thought his career was completely over. He just struggled and now he regained himself completely. Mooooose all th’ way!

  18. Tom–

    Well, you’re right that people thought Mussina’s career was over, but Lee just makes too much sense. There’s no guarantee that Lee was even going to make the rotation coming out of spring training.

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