Kevin Brown hasn’t won a game in more than nine months. If he can just make it out of the first inning unscathed, he might be able to end that slump.
Brown, who is making over $15 million in the final year of his contract, is off to a brutal starts in his second season with the Yankees. The 40-year-old right-hander has lost each of his first four starts, surrendering 22 runs in 24 innings.
Brown has allowed 12 of those runs in the first innings, including six in Tuesday’s 11-4 loss at Tampa Bay. He left the game after five innings, surrendering season highs of eight runs and 13 hits.
The loss left Brown winless since a 10-3 victory at Toronto last Aug. 28. In his next start, Brown grew so frustrated during a 3-1 loss to Baltimore that he punched a wall in the Yankees’ clubhouse, breaking his non-pitching hand.
He didn’t return to the team until late September, dropping his final two regular-season starts before beating Minnesota in the AL Division Series. However, Brown managed to last just 3 1-3 innings in two outings against Boston in the ALCS, taking the loss in Game 7 as New York completed the biggest collapse in postseason history.
Brown hasn’t done much to get back in the good graces of Yankee fans since, giving up eight runs and 19 hits over 13 innings in two home losses.
Brown watched Saturday afternoon as Mike Mussina ended New York’s four-game losing streak with his best performance of the season. Mussina pitched a four-hitter for his 22nd career shutout as the Yankees beat the A’s 5-0, avenging a 6-3, 10-inning loss in Friday’s series opener.
“A well-pitched ballgame changes your personality,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “It seems the ball club takes on a different personality. There’s less tension. The defense is crisper. This was a good sign. It was a baby step because of the way we won. Hopefully, this will be our signature this year.”
Oakland, which was shut out for the fifth time this season, has lost four of its last five games.
“We didn’t have many opportunities,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. ”(Mussina) got first-pitch strikes on 75 percent of our hitters and went to work from there. He was getting ahead of the hitters and using all his pitches. He was very good with that.”