Tampa Bay (43-61) at New York (60-41)

Partly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 69° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sun Jul 30, 2006
  • TV: FSFL, YES
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Mike Mussina looks to help the New York Yankees rebound from one of their worst losses of the season as they try to close the gap in both the AL East and wild card races.

The most consistent starter for the Yankees this season, Mussina (12-3, 3.44 ERA) takes the mound in the finale of a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday.

The right-hander is trying to win his fifth consecutive decision. He is 4-0 with a 3.50 ERA over his last six outings.

Mussina yielded three runs and five hits, including a home run, in six innings of a 7-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

“Overall, it wasn’t the easiest day,” Mussina said. “It was a lot of work, I got myself in some trouble a couple of times, but for the most part, I’m satisfied with it.”

Mussina is 14-5 with a 3.40 ERA in 24 starts against the Devil Rays. He is also 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last three outings against Tampa Bay. He has held the current Rays roster to a .206 batting average.

The Yankees (60-41) hope Mussina can help them rebound from Saturday’s 19-6 rout by the Devil Rays, the second time this season New York surrendered 19 runs along with a 19-1 defeat to the Cleveland Indians on July 4.

“They killed us,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “It was just a day we’d like to forget. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun. It felt like it lasted a day and a half.”

The loss knocked the Yankees 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox and one-half game behind the Chicago White Sox in the wild card race as both Boston and Chicago won on Saturday.

The Devil Rays (43-61) tied a franchise record in runs scored, matching a mark set on June 24, 2004, in a 19-13 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Tampa Bay’s Tomas Perez went 5-for-5 on Saturday and equaled a major league record with four doubles. He raised his batting average from .194 to .219 in the process.

The shortstop became the first player to double four times in a game since Adam LaRoche of the Atlanta Braves did it on May 15, 2004.

The Devil Rays look to continue the momentum as they give James Shields (4-4, 5.46) his first start against the Yankees. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander has lost his last four decisions over six starts while posting a 7.71 ERA and a .369 opponent batting average.

Shields allowed two runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, but did not record a decision in the Devil Rays’ 6-3 victory.

“I did my job…keep my team in the ballgame,” Shields said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Tampa Bay first baseman Ty Wigginton broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch from Shawn Chacon in the fourth inning on Saturday. He will be evaluated by a team doctor on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

New York’s Derek Jeter has gone 17-for-33 (.515) in his last eight games to improve his season average to .352—second in the AL. He has a .471 batting average in the last four meetings with the Devil Rays.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Shields SD vs. M. Mussina NYY
6-8 Record 15-7
4.84 ERA 3.51
104 K 172
38 BB 35
1.44 WHIP 1.11