Wells looks to follow up Mussina’s gem with a brilliant outing of his own when the Yankees take on the Seattle Mariners in the finale of their three-game set at Safeco Field.
After winning 19 games last season, the burly left-hander improved his record to 5-0 with Friday’s 5-3 win over Oakland. Wells allowed only Eric Byrnes’ two-run homer among the five hits he scattered over seven innings. He also struck out four and walked one.
“He was fine, he just had trouble locating a couple of fastballs early. He seemed to settle in and pitched very well after that,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He got us to the eighth inning tonight. It really makes up for a lot of shortcomings when you get starting pitching like we’ve been getting it.”
Wells is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts since allowing five runs and 11 hits over five innings in New York’s 7-6 loss to Toronto on April 16.
That outing came after he opened the season with two straight wins in which he allowed just one run and 10 hits over 17 innings, with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
The Yankees’ starters opened the season 16-0, but Wells looks to remain the Yankees’ only other unbeaten starter after Mussina pushed his record to a stellar 7-0 with Wednesday’s 7-2 win. The veteran right-hander struck out a season-high 12 without issuing a walk.
Seattle has climbed to the top of the AL West by winning 17 of 23 since a season-high three-game losing streak from April 9-11.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Mariners - 1st place, AL West.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (4-0, 2.74 ERA). In 41 career appearances, including 26 starts, against Seattle, Wells is 10-11 with a 4.56 ERA and three complete games.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Freddy Garcia (3-3, 3.83 ERA). After opening the season 1-3 with a 5.09 ERA over his first four starts, Garcia is 2-0 with a 2.36 ERA over his last three outings. The 26-year-old right-hander is coming in off Saturday’s 12-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox in which he allowed just one run and three hits over six innings, while striking out three and walking one. Garcia has fared well against the Yankees, posting a 4-1 mark with a 2.63 ERA and one complete game in five starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Alfonso Soriano, .336 avg., 10 HRs, 27 RBIs, 28 runs; Raul Mondesi, 8 SBs. Mariners - Edgar Martinez, .337 avg.; Bret Boone, 7 HRs, 25 runs; Cameron, 22 RBIs; Ichiro Suzuki, 6 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - OF Matsui is riding a season-high eight-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .324 (11-for-34) with five RBIs. … 1B Jason Giambi is batting just .231 in 26 career at-bats against RHP Garcia but has two doubles, a homer and four RBIs. … SS Derek Jeter went 1-for-3 Wednesday in his first minor league rehabilitation game since dislocating his left shoulder on opening day. The five-time All-Star is slated to play five games for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, and hopes to rejoin the Yankees when they open a homestand Tuesday. Mariners - 2B Boone is batting .750 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs in eight career at-bats against LHP Wells. … RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki rejoined the Mariners on Wednesday after a minor league rehab assignment and his strained lower back will be re-evaluated Thursday, when the right-hander is eligible to come off the 15-day DL. … OF Cameron is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with a double, two triples, two homers and 11 RBIs over his last five games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 14-4 on the road; Mariners - 12-6 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - SS Jeter (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Antonio Osuna (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Mariners - OF Chris Snelling (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Sasaki (back), 15-day DL.