What follows is a live dairy from Mike Mussina’s final start of the 2008 season. The start was Mussina’s attempt at achieving his first 20 win season. It may have also been the final start of his Hall of Fame career. Enjoy the read.
After the fact note: I didn’t mention it here, but this game was delayed more than 90 minutes by rain. For a bit it looked like destiny wasn’t even going to give Mussina a chance for 20.
2:35 – Just changed over to YES Network from the Jets game and what do you know? We’ve got baseball!
2:38 – Dice K is warming up and we’re ready to go. Michael Kay lets us know that Moose is going for 20 today and that Giambi is 4 RBI short of 100. Wow, only 4? What’s the over/under on Kay mentioning this today? I’ll put it at 8-10.
2:40 – Top 1st. Nothing doing for the Yankees. J.D. Drew made a great catch to rob Damon and Abreu struck out swinging. If the Yankees want to score some runs today they need to work those pitch counts against Dice K.
2:42 – Bottom 1st. Looks like the Sox are sending out their A lineup. Nothing easy today. Mussina’s first pitch is a curve for a strike.
2:45 – Dustin Predoria channels Marco Scutaro from Tuesday night and gets gunned down trying to stretch a single into a double. Johnny Damon with the great throw! Who saw that coming?
2:46 – Papi strikes out to end the inning. Nine pitches for Moose.
2:49 – Top 2nd. Freaking ARod skies the first pitch he sees from Dice K. It’s a pop out to short.
2:51 – Giambi’s taking some pitches at least. Say what you will about the guy, but he knows how to hit and the value of a base on balls. After the fact note: After 7 seasons, this was Jason Giambi’s final game as a New York Yankee.
2:52 – And Giambi swings at strike three. Doh!
2:54 – 6 up, 6 down for the Yankees. Dice K looks dialed in.
2:58 – Bottom 2nd. Youkilis pops up and out. There’s been a lot of talk, including an article on ESPN today, about Sox 2B Dustin Predoria winning the AL MVP. That’s just wrong. It should be Youkilis. Youk has more HR, RBI and a higher OBP, SLG and OPS (take a look for yourself, that stats are not even close). Without Ortiz and Ramirez for parts of this year it’s Youkilis that has held this team together.
3:01 – After somehow walking J.D. Drew, Moose strikes out Jason Bay. Mark Kotsay then grounds out to second. Moose and Dice K have both thrown 24 pitches thus far.
3:04 – Top 3rd. And we’ve got base runners finally as Cano doubles to right field. For someone who sucked so much this year when the Yankees were in the playoff race isn’t it great to see him performing well now that it doesn’t matter at all? Don’t get me wrong though, I’ll take it.
3:08 – Some dude named Cody Ransom comes to the plate and Dice K schools him. One out. Jose Molina, the offensive black hole and owner of an amazing .267 OBP strikes out on four pitches. Cano somehow steals third. Brett Gardner is up next.
3:11 – I want to hit something. After Cano’s leadoff double the likes of Ransom, Molina and Gardner could do nothing. When you’ve got three nobodies hitting in a row in your lineup like that, you’re not going to produce much.
3:13 – Bottom 3rd. At least I’m not a Mets fan. Their game is tied through 5 innings and that has to be killing their fans to watch that.
3:16 – Ellsbury tries to bunt his way on base. There are no cheap hits when Moose is going for 20! Who does he think he is?!?! (He ends up grounding out to second to end the third inning.)
3:22 – Top 4th. Damon grounds out on three pitches. Abreu gets into a full count and walks. It looked to me like he swung at that last one though. A-Rod at bat now.
3:25 – Abreu swipes second and hurts himself. Kay says he won’t come out of the game with a chance to score his 100th run. What a champ.
3:29 – ARod manages a patented Dice K not-giving-into-the-hitter walk. Giambi follows that up with another K. Two outs.
3:32 – Xavier Nady!!! Thank you Johnny Pesky and your pole. Nady just wrapped one around the right field fair pole for a miracle 300 foot homerun. I have no idea how that was a homerun. In any other ball park in the majors and in most little league fields, that’s a routine fly out to medium right. Mussina has a three run lead.
3:35 – Cano singles up the middle. I take back half the bad things I said about you Robinson. Thank you for not phoning this one in (same goes for Tuesday night too). Cody Ransom then lines one into left for another hit!
3:38 – The good fortune doesn’t continue as Molina predicably swings at the first pitch and grounds weakly to second. I’ll take all the other smiles that fortune shared with us that inning. Francona has to be thinking about taking Dice K out of this one.
3:42 – Bottom 4th. Cody Ransom totally muffs a routine grounder. Repeat after me: This is not the opening of the flood gates. This is not the beginning of the end. This is just one error.
3:44 – Ortiz singles up the middle, followed by a deep out to center by Youkilis. Predoria moves to third. We need a double play right here before things escalate.
3:46 – And I’m a prophet! 4-6-3. End of 4 innings.
3:53 – Top 5th. Dice K is out. With how badly Beckett has thrown lately, Lester and Dice K should start Games 1 and 2 for Boston. Heck, Paul Byrd has probably pitched as well as Beckett.
3:58 – Reader Joy says she’s actually reading this for updates since she can’t watch the game and I’m faster updating then those silly web applications. That’s right mussinahof – faster than the web.
4:00 – After Gardner and Damon looked pitiful against nasty lefty specialist Javier Lopez, Abreu works a walk. He really wants that 101st run scored! He goes to second on a wild pitch.
4:01 – Seemed to me that ARod has been phoning it in lately, so I just checked his splits. Over the last two weeks he’s .229/.308/.429. Somebody is ready for this season to be over.
4:03 – And of course Rodriguez follows that up with a weak 60 foot single down the third base line.
4:05 – Giambi looks at strike three to end the top of the 5th. Moose needs three outs to make it an official game.
4:08 – I just had to change my shirt because I was sweating through it. Is that normal? Oh BTW we have shirts now.
4:12 – Bottom 5th. What do you know… the YES guys are talking about Mussina’s HOF credentials? If they went to this site they’d have all the info they’d need. Meanwhile Jed Lowrie strikes out twice (the ump totally blew the first 3rd strike and then proceeded to call him out on a pitch that looked like a ball). Moose retires the side in order and is cruising. This is now an official game.
4:14 – Moose is at only 62 pitches through 5. Could this possibly, maybe be a complete game? There’s certainly no tomorrow. I say if he keeps cruising and is ahead by 3, let him go as long as he can.
4:19 – Top 6th. Just got reminded, after reading our wonderful comments, that the last Mussina strikeout was his 150th of 2008.
4:20 – For some unknown reason Manny Delcarmen refuses to challenge Ransom and he draws a walk. 1st and 2nd, 1 away.
4:21 – And what a shock The Black Hole of Offensive (which is how I will refer to Jose Molina hence forth) swings at the very first pitch and grounds into a double play; killing any chance at another run.
4:23 – The Mets bullpen allows two runs to the Marlins in the 8th and now trail 4-2. I’m shocked, shocked to hear the Mets’ bullpen is costing them the playoffs.
4:24 – Wow and perfect timing as Ryan Braun hits a 2 run homer to give the Brewers a 2 run lead. Did the Mets season just end in the span of 2 minutes?
4:26 – Bottom 6th. Moose throws two straight strikes, that are called balls and Varitek gets a leadoff walk.
4:27 – Holy mother, the Jets just beat the Cardinals 56-35 (Favre tossed 6 TD’s). I hope you took the over and started Favre in fantasy.
4:29 – Dustin Predoria grounds into another 4-6-3 and Moose is through 6 innings. Nine outs to 20 wins. After the fact note: So that’s how it ended for Mussina: A doubleplay ball off of a 75mph or so curveball to the eventual AL MVP. Not bad for a final pitch.
4:32 – Top 7th. Looks like Moose might be coming out of the game after only 73 pitches. Very weird, he’s been lights out, there’s not another start left and this is his shot at 20! 73 pitches, seriously that’s it?!?!
4:34 – As Damon grounds out for the second Yankee out of the inning, my only thought on Mussina heading to the clubhouse is that the elbow must have been hurting him a lot more then he or Giradi let on. But damn would it have been nice to see him pitch a complete game or shutout for #20.
4:38 – Bottom 7th. Mike Mussina’s 2008 season is over. Phil Coke is now pitching for the Yankees. I wish Moose was still in there.
4:39 – The Brewers won; Sabathia pitched a CG. The Mets are down to their last at bat, trailing by 2. I’ll excuse you if you switch over to a Mets blog for a bit (beware of weeping though).
4:41 – Countdown time. Ortiz grounds out to second; 8 outs to go.
4:42 – 7 outs to go, Coke strikes out Youkilis.
4:45 – 6 to go! Coke dominates J.D. Drew for the big-time K. We are through seven innings.
4:47 – Top 8th. Okijima strikes out ARod. Giambi will attempt to avoid his 4th strikeout of the game next.
4:50 – After Giambi popped up to third, Xavier Nady (my new favorite Yankee) strikes out. Its okay Xavier, you’re forgiven. It’s a miracle Nady hit that 3 run blast after Dice K issued two walks. The Yankees have done zip beyond that.
4:53 – Bottom 8th. Joba Time.
4:56 – Yuck. Joba walks Jason Bay to start the inning.
4:59 – Crap. Kotsay slams a ground rule double to right. 2nd and 3rd, no one out, tying run coming to the plate. I knew this was too easy.
4:59 – Wow, Giradi just pulled Joba from the game. This had better work.
5:00 – Little nervous right now. Brain Bruney is on.
5:01 – Okay let’s be realistic here, the Soxs are going to get at least one run, probably two. That’s not the end of the world. If we can get a sac fly and a ground out for the runs, I’ll take it. Bring on Mo then for the save and we can win this.
5:03 – 5 to go. Burney strikes out Lowrie looking at a borderline strike.
5:04 – You know what would make a great reality program today? A live feed of Mussina watching this in the clubhouse.
5:05 – The Mets just lost and are eliminated on the last day for the second straight year (by the same team, the Marlins). If you know a Mets fan call them and talk them off the ledge they are likely ready to jump from.
5:06 – 4 outs to go, but at a price. The Sox score a run and Marte is walking in from the bullpen. Runner on third still. I would have called Mo. Marte is infamous for his 0.0IP 1H 1BB appearances. Plus he cost us that Minnesota win, which I’m almost afraid to mention right now.
5:10 – Marte almost throws a wild pitch and then gives up an RBI single to Ellsbury. What a shock, Marte &^!%!%!%$%!!$%@#%@%!@%@#% sucks terribly. Here comes Mo, one hitter too late.
5:16 – MARIANO RIVERA! Mo gets Predoria swinging to end the 8th inning. 3 outs to go.
5:18 – Top 9th. Question: how many years of your life would you give for the Yanks to get a couple runs here?
5:20 – Robby Cano plays for Mike Mussina. Single up the middle. Oh yeah, Papelbon is pitching now.
5:21 – Go Joe! A routine grounder to second ends with runners on the corners after Giradi calls the hit and run. Molina is up, he’s swinging away, and you know it.
5:23 -. Molina, after somehow taking 2 pitches, hits a sac fly to right. Cano scores (I take back every single bad thing I ever said or thought about him). Yankees lead 4-2.
5:27 – Papelbon might be a secret Mussina fan. He gives up another hit, this time to Brett Gardner. First and second, 1 out, Damon up.
5:30 – The scrappy Johnny Damon battles Papelbon for a walk. The bases are now full of Yankees.
5:33 – The Yankees get another run on a fielder’s choice by Melkey Cabera. This Cabera kid looks good. He should be a star by 2006.
5:36 – I just want Rivera to come back out now. Another Yankee run scores on another Rodriguez in-field hit. Can you imagine how much this would suck if this was happening after the Red Sox had managed to tie it up last inning? 6-2 Yankees now.
5:40 – Unintentional comedy highlight of the evening: Papelbon just recorded a strikeout to end the inning and didn’t walk off the mound. He had no idea how many outs there were. He then proceeded to walk a one minute slow stroll to the Sox dugout, acting like he had meant to do that the entire time.
5:41 – The bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th combined to last 47 minutes, extract 21 posts from me and run the entire gambit from anxiety, to depression, to elation, to more elation and now back to anxiety again (but not nearly as bad as the bottom of the 8th inning). Few things in my life will likely ever be as nerve racking as that half inning.
5:42 – Bottom of the 9th. 3 outs to go, Mo vs. Ortiz up first. I can barely breathe.
5:44 – 2 to goooooooh wait…Cody Ransom wants us to sweat this out a bit more. E6 on the booted ball.
5:46 – After today’s game I might have to change the age on my driver’s license from 27 to about 45.
5:46 – 2 outs to go. For real this time. Youkilis grounds out to third; nice throw by Alex Rodriguez.
5:48 – 1 out one stands between Mike Mussina and his first 20 win season as Drew skies one to Cano.
5:49 – Michael Kay says the prevailing wisdom is that Mussina is retiring. He said people with the club, off the record, have told him this. I don’t buy it, though I’m not positive. What a way to go out if he did though.
5:50 – The ballgame is over ladies and gentlemen and Mike Mussina is a 20 game winner!
5:51 – I’m not really sure what to say right now. I’m in shock. This must have been what Frodo felt like when he finally got rid of that damn ring.
First off thanks to everyone for continuing to support this site and sticking it out with us today. I love all of you!! Moose is the oldest player to win 20 games for the first time. We’ll have more on all of this later. Right now enjoy the moment and the evening and keep smiling. Moose is on YES right now and even he’s smiling ear to ear. Well done Mike, thank you for a great season. You deserve this.
BTW, in the YES interview Moose said he didn’t know if this was it. He said he’d have to get away from things for a bit and see. But he added that if this was it, it was a heck of a way to go out.
We agree Mike, we agree.