Since winning his first seven starts, the right-hander has dropped each of his last three outings—a trend he hopes to reverse when New York concludes its three-game series with the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Mussina, who has not won 20 games in any of his previous 12 big league seasons, appeared on the fast track to that goal when he picked up victories in each of his first seven outings, pitching to a dazzling 1.70 ERA.
But much like the Yankees crashing back to earth following a breathtaking 20-4 start, Mussina has been reached for 12 runs and 20 hits over 18 innings while losing his last three starts.
On Friday, Mussina was reached for four runs and seven hits over six innings in a 6-2 loss to Toronto.
“We’re obviously a better club than we’ve been recently,” Mussina said. “As good as we were in the beginning, we’re that bad now. We’re not hitting, we’re not pitching, we’re not catching the ball. We’re not doing anything.”
The Yankees put an end to their season-high five-game losing streak, and an eight-game skid at home—their longest since 1986—with Tuesday’s convincing 11-3 win.
Boston slipped to 2-3 against New York this season, and has accounted for the Yankees’ only wins in the last 15 games.
Nomar Garciaparra went 0-for-4, snapping his major league season-high 26-game hitting streak. Garciaparra had not gone hitless since April 26 at Anaheim.
The Red Sox had won three of four prior to Tuesday’s setback.
STANDINGS: Red Sox - 1st place, AL East. Yankees - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL East.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Derek Lowe (4-3, 5.27 ERA). After going winless in five straight starts, Lowe had his best outing of the season Friday against Cleveland. Lowe, who won 21 games last year in his first full season as a starter, tossed his first complete game of 2003, allowing two runs and four hits while striking out five and walking three. The converted closer is 4-7 with five saves and a 5.08 ERA in 30 career appearances, including six starts, against the Yankees.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Mussina (7-3, 2.54 ERA). Mussina is 16-11 with five complete games, two shutouts and a 3.09 ERA in 36 career starts against Boston. This is his first outing against the Red Sox this season.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - SS Garciaparra fell eight games shy of matching Dom DiMaggio (1949) for the longest hitting streak in franchise history. … 3B Shea Hillenbrand is batting .333 with two homers and six RBIs in 33 career at-bats against RHP Mussina. … RHP Lowe is 1-3 with an 11.57 ERA in five road starts this season. He is 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in five home outings. Yankees - SS Jeter hit his 10th career leadoff homer Tuesday, and first since June 1, 2001 against Seattle. … INF Zeile’s homer Tuesday was the 238th of his career, moving him past Gus Zernial for the most ever by a player whose last name begins with “Z.” … The Yankees have outhomered the opposition 77-34 this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 13-11 on the road; Yankees - 12-15 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - RHP Chad Fox (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Pedro Martinez (side), 15-day DL. Yankees - 1B-DH Nick Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; OF Bernie Williams (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.