Mike Mussina hopes to avoid a season-high third straight loss for the New York Yankees on Tuesday when he faces his former team in the opener of a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Mussina (13-5, 3.50 ERA) has lost back-to-back starts for the second time this year. He gave up five runs—three earned—and eight hits over six innings his last time out on Thursday in a 5-4 loss at the defending World Series champion Chicago White Sox.
“It’s tough with a team that good to give them that many outs,” Mussina said. “Nothing good is going to happen when you give them four, five outs like that.”
Both of his last two losses have come on the road, including a 5-0 defeat at Baltimore on Aug. 5 in which he surrendered three runs over five innings. Mussina is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four outings at home.
The right-hander is 9-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 19 career starts against the Orioles, with whom he spent his first 10 seasons in the majors.
New York (69-46) increased its lead in the AL East after a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday salvaged a split of a four-game set.
The Yankees moved two games ahead of second-place Boston. They’ll visit the Red Sox for a five-game series this weekend.
Derek Jeter fell a triple short of the cycle on Monday, going 3-for-5 in his first multihit effort since Aug. 2. Jeter had been in an 8-for-40 slump.
Yankees manager Joe Torre made a lineup change, dropping reigning AL MVP Alex Rodriguez from cleanup to fifth. It marked only the 20th time this season he has not been in the No. 4 slot.
Rodriguez, who is 4-for-28 against the Orioles this year, went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly.
New York is 6-3 against Baltimore this season. Jeter has led the way, going 13-for-34 against the Orioles with a .488 on-base percentage.
Baltimore (51-67) has lost four straight games to fall to 1-5 on a nine-game road trip. The Orioles had the day off Monday after being swept over the weekend in Boston.
Although the Orioles appear headed for a ninth straight losing season, manager Sam Perlozzo believes there are plenty of positives.
“The wins aren’t showing up, but it’s like we said in the beginning, we talked about going in a direction and doing some things we wanted to do, and I think we’ve done that,” Perlozzo said. “At the same time, we knew that we still had some holes, but the holes were fewer, and I think that’s what’s going on with the organization.”
One of the bright spots has been the development of Erik Bedard (12-8, 3.91) into the team’s ace. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts since a seven-game winning streak from June 16-July 23.
“It feels good to have a season with more consistency and no injuries,” Bedard said.
Bedard is meeting the Yankees for the first time this year. The left-hander is 1-3 with a 6.45 ERA against the Yankees in six career appearances, including five starts.