Mussina will look to continue his dominance of his former team and win his fourth straight start overall when the streaking New York Yankees continue their three-game series at Camden Yards.
Mussina, who was 147-81 with a 3.53 ERA and 1,535 strikeouts during his decade in Baltimore, is 5-1 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts against the Orioles since signing with the Yankees following the 2000 season.
The 34-year-old right-hander’s 2003 season has mirrored his team’s. Mussina won his first seven starts while compiling a 1.70 ERA. He lasted eight innings in five of those outings and allowed more than two earned runs just once, his first start of the season, as the Yankees won 25 of their first 34 games.
However, when Mussina started to struggle, so did New York. Mussina allowed 19 earned runs over his next five starts, losing four and failing to get a decision when closer Mariano Rivera blew a four-run lead against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning. The Yankees lost 19 of their 30 during that stretch and fell out of first place temporarily.
Mussina has since bounced back to win three straight starts, pitching at least seven innings and allowing two earned runs in each outing.
The Yankees have won a season-high eight straight, and 16 of their last 18, including a 6-5 triumph in Monday’s series opener.
“We’ve been playing well. You’re only as good as your pitching, and our pitching has been outstanding,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “We’re running on all cylinders right now.”
The Orioles, who were 27-27 heading into June, finished the month with a dismal 8-18 record, including losses in their last five to sit a season-high 10 games below .500.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Orioles - 4th place, 16 GB, AL East.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Mussina (10-4, 2.95 ERA). Mussina has pitched at least six innings in 13 of his 15 starts this season. Opponents are hitting just .225 against him.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Rodrigo Lopez (1-4, 7.63 ERA). Lopez has not lasted past the sixth inning in any of his nine starts. The right-hander, who won 15 games last season, allowed six earned runs and seven hits in just 1 2-3 innings against Toronto on Thursday, but escaped without a decision in the Orioles’ 13-8 loss. Lopez has no record and 10.29 ERA in two career appearances, spanning seven innings, against the Yankees.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Hideki Matsui, .300 avg.; Jason Giambi, 22 HRs and 63 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 68 runs and 24 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .352 avg. and 48 runs; Tony Batista, 15 HRs; Jay Gibbons, 59 RBIs; Jerry Hairston Jr., 14 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - OF Matsui, who led the American League with 14 hits and 14 RBIs, has been named the AL Player of the Week for the period of June 23-29. … 1B/DH Nick Johnson swung a bat Monday for the first time since injuring his right hand in May. Johnson reported no problems after taking swings with a fungo bat. He has also started a throwing program, but is not yet catching the ball. … OF Bubba Trammell was placed on the restricted list after leaving the team Sunday with an unspecified personal problem. Manager Joe Torre, who has had no contact with Trammell, said the outfielder was penciled into the starting lineup on Sunday against the Mets. Orioles - DH David Segui has been available only as a pinch hitter because of a sore knee. He is also in a 6-for-43 slump. … After going 5-13 in interleague play, the Orioles now face a week in which they face the Yankees three times before hosting Toronto for four games. The Orioles were 6-13 against New York last year and 4-15 vs the Blue Jays. … AL batting leader Melvin Mora, who has been playing despite a sore right hand, went 0-for-3 on Monday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 29-13 on the road. Orioles - 17-23 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - OF Bernie Williams (knee), 15-day DL; 1B/DH Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Contreras (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. Orioles - RHP Willis Roberts (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; INF Hairston (leg), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL.