Mike Mussina looks to help the Yankees bounce back from one of the worst losses in team history when they continue their four-game series with the Indians Wednesday at Jacobs Field.
The Indians (39-43) routed the Yankees 19-1 on Tuesday—Steinbrenner’s 76th birthday. Jhonny Peralta and Travis Hafner each had two homers, and Victor Martinez and Ronnie Belliard also connected for Cleveland, which had a season-high 21 hits.
The loss was the worst for the Yankees (46-35) since Aug. 31, 2004, when the Indians beat them 22-0 in the Bronx for the most-lopsided defeat in franchise history.
New York has lost by 18 or more runs just four times. Including a 24-6 loss on July 29, 1928, the Indians have been responsible for three of those defeats.
Steinbrenner wasn’t born yet in 1928, but he has been around for the last two big losses.
“I’m sure he didn’t take it very well, any day,” said winning starter Jake Westbrook, who played for the Yankees in 2000. “But just like them, we have to turn the page.”
Tuesday’s win was Cleveland’s biggest at home since a 21-2 victory over the Philadelphia Athletics on June 18, 1950. The Indians had not scored 19 runs since the 22-0 win over the Yankees two seasons ago, and also matched a season high for runs in an inning with nine in the fifth.
The Indians have won four straight for the first time since May 16-19. They have not won five in a row since a season-best six-game winning streak April 4-11.
The Yankees, who have lost five of nine, had not given up so many runs on the road since Texas scored 20 on July 18, 1987. Manager Joe Torre, whose team trails Boston by four games for the AL East lead, hinted he might make some lineup changes before the All-Star break.
“It was helpless to sit there and watch,” Torre said. “We scored only one run. We have to be better than this to stay in the race.”
Mussina (9-3, 3.17 ERA) will look to hold Cleveland’s bats in check on Wednesday. He did not allow a hit in four innings of the Yankees’ 2-0 win over the New York Mets on Friday.
Mussina, who felt a slight strain in his right groin during the first inning, left the game after a 63-minute rain delay, but four other relievers combined on a one-hitter.
“I don’t feel too bad at all. I think we prevented any real damage,” he said. “We have enough injury problems.”
Mussina is 9-9 with a 4.91 ERA in 23 career starts against the Indians—his worst ERA against any AL opponent. He gave up six runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-4 loss to Cleveland on June 15.
Cleveland will counter with Paul Byrd (6-5, 4.10), who allowed nine hits in six scoreless innings but did not receive a decision in the Indians’ 9-8 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. He is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in his last five starts.
Byrd is 1-2 with a 2.72 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees. He gave up one run in seven innings against them on June 13, but was outdueled by Chein-Ming Wang and charged with a 1-0 loss.