Everything started so well for Mike Mussina. Working on three days rest, Mussina was sharp through the first four innings last night, striking out five of the first six batters he faced. After brushing back Bobby Higgenson with a fastball, Mussina caught him looking on a beautiful curve ball. But in his second at bat, Higgenson crushed an 0-2 delivery for a two-run homer, and that was the begining of the end of Mussina and the Yanks. That Higgenson flipped his bat and hot-dogged it around the bases didn’t help my digestion any. Jason Johnson, who pitched a terrific game, allowed the Yanks to score a run before the Tigers put up five in the sixth.
There wasn’t much to remember from this one. The Yankees put some good swings on the ball but didn’t have much to show for it. Also, Bernie Williams badly misplayed a ball during the Tigers sixth inning. And Taynon Sturtze plunked Pudge Rodriguez in the ninth. Rodriguez left the game and Ugie Urbina returned the favor by throwing behind Gary Sheffield in the bottom half of the inning. Sturtze was not run from the game like Esteban Yan had been the previous night. Both teams were warned after Urbina threw at Sheffield.
The Yankees lead over the Red Sox is down to seven games. Thank you very much, Mr. Zito. There were many writers in the New York and Boston media who believed the Yankees won the AL East last week. I’m not one of them. Not only do I think the Red Sox are alive and well in the wild-card race, I don’t think it’s beyond them to win the East either. (Ed Cossette however, remains cautious…)