Tony Gwynn & Jeff Passan: Best team in NY: Mets or Yankees?
Mussina (4-1, 2.31 ERA) is trying for his fourth consecutive win after allowing one run with seven strikeouts in each of his last three outings, spanning 19 1-3 innings. He’s looking to join Randy Johnson as the second five-game winner on New York’s staff.
The right-hander led the Yankees (15-11) to a 4-1 win over Toronto in his last start on Sunday.
“I thought I made some pitches that didn’t get called. I fought through it,” Mussina said.
Johnny Damon hit his fifth career grand slam as the Yankees swept a two-game series from Tampa Bay with a 10-5 win on Thursday. The center fielder is 10-for-26 (.385) with three homers, seven RBIs and nine runs in the last six games.
The Yankees have used seven players at the designated hitter position through 26 games, including Damon for the fourth time on Thursday.
“Hopefully, we can do some kind of rotation, that DH spot is important for us,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “We’re going to have to take care of Damon because he’s not going to put his hand up very often. He’s basically a team guy that is going to do whatever you need him to do.”
Gary Sheffield may make his fifth appearance at designated hitter on Friday as he’s expected to return to the starting lineup for the first time since hurting his left wrist on Saturday.
He made his first appearance since the injury on Thursday, pinch hitting for Bubba Crosby and staying in the game to play right field. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.
“I feel a little pain, especially when they come inside,” Sheffield said. “You have to work real hard to catch up to it.”
The Rangers (17-12) are looking to extend their winning streak to seven games for the first time since a nine-game run at the end of last May.
Kevin Mench hit his ninth home run and got his team-leading 24th RBI to help the Rangers to an 8-2 win over Baltimore on Thursday. Texas has outscored its opponents 35-17 during the win streak.
Mench is 2-for-16 (.125) in the last four games, but both hits are solo shots. He was batting .342 through the first 20 games before his recent slump.
Vicente Padilla (3-1, 4.04) will try to become Texas’ first four-game winner Friday as he makes his first start against the Yankees.
The right-hander won his last outing, giving up four runs and six hits over six innings of an 8-4 victory over Cleveland on Sunday.
Texas may be without Brad Wilkerson on Friday after he suffered a mild concussion in Thursday’s win when he crashed into the outfield wall catching a fly ball. The left fielder complained of a dull headache and a sore right shoulder.
“I’m kind of worried about it, but I’ll wait until (Friday) to see what’s going on,” Wilkerson said.