Osborne, who battled for and ultimately won the fifth starters’ spot out of spring training, was relegated to bullpen duty after manager Joe Torre opted to use Jorge De Paula and rookie Alex Graman during the early season. Veteran right-hander Jon Lieber was activated from the disabled list last week to claim the role.
However, Contreras was ineffective as New York’s No. 4 starter, yielding at least five runs in three of his first five starts, and lasting longer than 3 1-3 innings just twice. Contreras was sent down to Class A Tampa after giving up seven runs in two-plus innings against Oakland Tuesday.
Lieber moved up to the fourth slot and gave Osborne a chance to prove he can fit into the rotation—at least for now.
Osborne earned the spot with a stellar performance in relief of Contreras in Oakland. By yielding one run and three hits over four innings, the crafty southpaw kept New York in the game, setting the stage for a come-from-behind 10-8 victory.
“How about that? That’s a good feeling,” said Osborne after earning his second win out of the bullpen. “When you’re losing like that, you just try to keep your team in the game and get outs any way you can.”
Osborne, who spent seven injury-plagued seasons in St. Louis, will be making his first start since 1999 with the Cardinals. He made 11 relief appearances for the Chicago Cubs in 2002, but missed the 2000, 2001 and 2003 campaigns.
The Yankees got a brilliant pitching performance from Mike Mussina on Saturday, bouncing back from Friday’s series-opening 6-2 loss with a 6-0 victory. Mussina scattered three hits over eight innings and Jason Giambi belted a two-run homer as New York ended a two-game skid and won for the ninth time in 11 games.
Ichiro Suzuki had two hits for the Mariners, who had won four of five.