Mussina, 12-6 with a 3.13 ERA in 26 career starts against the Royals, has been even more effective in Kansas City, going 6-1 with two complete games and a 3.47 ERA in 11 outings.
On Thursday, Mussina extended his unbeaten streak to four starts with a 7-5 victory over Texas. The veteran right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits over 7 1-3 innings, recovering nicely from a three-run homer by Rangers slugger Rafael Palmeiro in the first.
“It was one of those days when it took a few innings to figure out what was working and what to do,” Mussina said. “It took some time. I figured things out an inning or two later.”
Mussina struck out five without a walk, and needs one more victory for at least 13 wins in 10 of his last 11 seasons.
The AL East-leading Yankees took an early 5-1 lead on the AL Central-leading Royals in Monday’s series opener. But Kansas City rallied against starter David Wells and New York’s beleaguered bullpen, posting an impressive 12-9 win to maintain its slim advantage over the second-place Chicago White Sox.
Mike DeFelice had three of the Royals’ team-record 11 doubles, helping Kansas City to its third straight win since a four-game losing streak.
The Yankees had not lost in Kauffman Stadium since Sept. 6, 2000. They had swept the three-game series at Kansas City each of the past two seasons.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Royals - 1st place, AL Central.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Mussina (12-6, 3.35 ERA). Mussina is 5-3 with a 4.23 ERA in 10 road starts this season.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Darrell May (5-5, 3.65 ERA). May is winless in four outings since winning five straight starts from June 27-July 19. He did pitch well on Thursday, allowing four hits over six scoreless innings in the Royals’ 3-2 loss at Tampa Bay. The left-hander has yielded 12 runs and 15 hits over 13 innings in his previous two starts. May has given up a run and six hits over 8 2-3 innings in five career relief appearances against New York.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Derek Jeter, .324 avg.; Giambi, 34 HRs and 91 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 81 runs and 28 SBs. Royals - Raul Ibanez, .295 avg.; Carlos Beltran, 18 HRs, 70 runs and 30 SBs.; Ibanez and Beltran, 71 RBIs; .
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - The Yankees have 18 homers in their last nine games. … The Yankees placed RHP Antonio Osuna on bereavement leave Monday so he could fly home to Mexico, where his mother was scheduled for heart surgery. The team called up RHP Bret Prinz from Triple-A Columbus to fill his roster spot. Prinz was reached for two runs and three hits in one-third of an inning in his Yankees debut. … New York has not lost four straight since a five-game skid from May 22-26. Royals - The Royals and Yankees broke the AL mark of 18 doubles by Cleveland and Minnesota on July 13, 1996. The major league record is 23 by St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs on July 12, 1931. … OF Ibanez is 5-for-7 with a homer and three RBIs in his career against RHP Mussina. … 3B Joe Randa has not had nearly as much success against Mussina, going 3-for-32 (.094) with just one RBI.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 37-22 on the road; Royals - 32-27 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Gabe White (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Royals - INF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Michael Tucker (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Lima (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL.