Mussina will look to continue his domination of the Mariners when Seattle and New York open a three-game series in the Bronx.
Mussina had one of the worst months of his career in April, going 1-4 with a 6.55 ERA, but appears to have found the form that has made him one of the game’s most successful pitchers.
After pitching seven strong innings in a 4-1 victory over Kansas City on May 2, Mussina limited the Mariners to three hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks in a 6-0 win at Safeco Field on Saturday.
With five straight wins over the Mariners, the 35-year-old right-hander is now 16-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 23 career starts against Seattle.
Mussina isn’t sure what the reason is for his success against the Mariners.
“They’re a good ballclub. They’ve got a solid lineup,” he said. “You’re always going to get a good-pitched game from the other starter. I can’t explain it.”
The Yankees and their ace right-hander have a lot in common these days. New York has won 12 of 15 following an 8-11 start and is now a half-game up on Boston atop the AL East.
The Yankees will once again be without catcher Jorge Posada on Friday after he broke his nose during Wednesday’s 11-2 loss to Anaheim. John Flaherty will start again in place of Posada, who is expected to play this weekend.
While New York has started to play the way most expected, Seattle continues to be one of baseball’s most disappointing teams.
The Mariners, who averaged 99 wins over the previous four seasons, are last in the AL West with one of the worst records in the majors.
A 1-0 loss at Minnesota on Friday was Seattle’s season high-tying fifth straight defeat.
“We’re probably at the point where we’re getting negative thoughts in our heads,” Mariners pitcher Ryan Franklin said of the team’s early slump. “But we’ve got to think positive.”
During three straight losses to the Twins, the Mariners had 36 hits, but 34 were singles.
Making matters worse for the Mariners is the absence of second baseman Bret Boone, who missed his second straight game Thursday with a hip flexor. He is listed as day-to-day.