Baseball’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony is July 29th. Over the next two weeks we will take a look at this year’s inductees and see how their careers intersected with Mike Mussina.
Mussina faced more than 1,000 hitters during his career. He only faced 15 hitters more frequently then he faced 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Jim Thome.
Mussina’s duels with Thome spanned the entirety of Mussina’s 19-year career. Both players were late-season call-ups in 1991 (back in the days when Thome played 3B). They faced off for the first time in Thome’s 15th career game and Mussina’s 10th career start. As was typical in his career, Mussina pitched 8.1 innings, allowed no earned runs, but was tagged for the loss. The final matchup between the two occured in 2008. The game was Mussina’s 3rd to last career start (#536), his 268th win (tying him with Jim Palmer) and the 18th victory of his 20-win final season .
In 68 plate appearances (57 AB), including nine in the postseason (more on that in a moment), Thome slashed .237/.338/.898 against Mussina. Thome tagged Mussina for six homeruns in 59 at-bats, while Mussina produced 17 strikeouts against eight walks. Mussina only allowed more homeruns to two players: Manny Ramirez and Frank Thomas.
Nine of those plate appearances came in the postseason and this is where Mussina controlled Thome’s prodigious HOF bat. Thome recorded no hits in six at-bats. Thome managed three walks against four strikeouts. Mussina’s Orioles and Thome’s Indians faced off in the 1996 ALDS, won by Baltimore, and the 1997 ALCS, won by Cleveland.
We at mussinaHOF.com congratulate Jim Thome on his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.