One night after New York’s beleaguered rotation finally got a boost, veteran Mike Mussina will try for his first win in five starts when the Yankees wrap up a four-game road series with the struggling Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
Chien-Ming Wang pitched a five-hitter in the Yankees’ 5-1 victory on Wednesday, giving the team its first nine-inning complete game of the season.
“That’s as good a game as he’s thrown as a Yankee and it came at a good time,” third baseman Alex Rodriguez said.
The Yankees (26-31) have used 11 different starters this season, and the rotation is 19-21 with an unsightly 4.74 ERA. New York’s starters had not gone six innings in any of the previous six games.
Along with Wang’s performance, New York also got word Wednesday that Roger Clemens, who agreed May 6 to a one-year contract worth a pro-rated $28,000,022, is on track to make his season debut Saturday at home against Pittsburgh.
Mussina (2-3, 6.25 ERA) has thrown 57 career complete games, but hasn’t gone the distance since a 6-1 win in Detroit on May 31 of last season. The 38-year-old right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.33 ERA in four starts since his last win - May 9 over Texas - and allowed five runs in five-plus innings but escaped without a decision in the Yankees’ 11-6 loss at Boston on Saturday.
“It’s very frustrating and I’m really getting tired of it,” Mussina told the Yankees’ official Web site. “I go out and one game is good and one game is bad. I’ve never pitched this way and I don’t like pitching this way. I can’t stand it.”
Mussina is 15-16 with a 4.72 ERA in 35 career starts against the White Sox. The losses are his most against any opponent, and Chicago is the only AL club besides the Yankees (6-8) against which he has a losing lifetime record.
He gave up five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 defeat at Chicago on May 16.
Despite five wins in their last seven games, the Yankees still trail the Boston Red Sox by 10 1/2 games for the AL East lead. However, their offense appears to be coming around, with 47 runs scored over the last seven games.
Rodriguez, who hit .235 with five homers in May, went 2-for-4 on Wednesday and is 8-for-18 (.444) with a pair of homers and seven RBIs in his last four games.
“We’re starting to stack some blocks, and that’s what we need to do,” said Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose club is seeking its first three-game winning streak since May 1-3. “It’s a long season, and we certainly need to climb back to .500. We’ll see how good we are by that point.”
The White Sox (26-29), meanwhile, have dropped nine of 11 and are eight games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central. They have scored three or fewer runs in six of their last seven games.
Chicago placed third Joe Crede on the 15-day DL Wednesday because of lower back inflammation that could require surgery. Top prospect Josh Fields was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte to replace him, but went 0-for-3.
Former Yankees starter Jose Contreras (4-5, 4.29) will try to help the White Sox earn a series split. The right-hander allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 9-3 loss in Toronto without factoring in the decision.
Contreras has struggled at home this season, going 2-2 but compiling a 6.64 ERA in four starts. He is 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA in four career starts against New York, where he compiled a 15-7 record in the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
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