The 39-year-old right-hander responded with his best outing of the year.
Mussina will try to build on that strong performance Monday night and help the Yankees gain a split of a four-game set with the Cleveland Indians.
Mussina (2-3, 4.94 ERA) went 11-10 with a career-high 5.15 ERA in 2007. He was even demoted to the bullpen for the playoffs.
He started 2008 in similar fashion, posting a 1-3 record with a 5.75 ERA in his first four starts while serving up five homers. - a performance that did not please the outspoken Steinbrenner.
“(Mussina) just needs to learn how to pitch like Jamie Moyer,” Steinbrenner said in an article posted on the team’s official Web site, referencing Philadelphia’s 45-year-old left-hander.
Mussina responded to those comments in a big way Wednesday, limiting the White Sox to two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 6-4 win at Chicago. The five-time All-Star topped 100 pitches for the first time since June in his longest outing of the season.
“People have always doubted me,” Mussina said. “If you throw bad games, they doubt you. That’s part of it when you’re past 35 years old. Every time you step on a mound and give up two hits in an inning, that’s just how it is. I’m just glad I’m still able to go out there and pitch.”
After dropping the first two games of this series, the Yankees (13-13) got more excellent pitching Sunday. Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera combined on a four-hitter as New York won 1-0.
Mussina won’t have Jorge Posada to throw to in the series finale. The catcher was a last-minute scratch Sunday, and said an arm problem will land him on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
“We have to be smart about it,” Posada said. “It’s not getting any better. The MRI shows a strained muscle, but I think it’s more than that. I want to really find out what it is.”
Jose Molina, who went 0-for-3 Sunday, will likely make his fifth start behind the plate this season.
The Indians (12-13) saw a pair of streaks end Sunday. They had their five-game winning streak snapped, and Grady Sizemore sat out with an ankle injury, ending his major-league best run of 382 consecutive games played.
The All-Star center fielder suffered the injury when he stepped awkwardly on second base during the ninth inning Saturday. Sizemore’s ankle was sore and swollen Sunday. He tried to run on it and took batting practice before manager Eric Wedge decided to rest him.
Cleveland will give Aaron Laffey his first start of the season. The 23-year-old left-hander went 4-2 with a 4.56 ERA in nine starts during 2007.
In five starts with Triple-A Buffalo in 2008, Laffey was 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA. He’s being summoned to the majors due to Wednesday’s rainout in Kansas City, which led Fausto Carmona to pitch one day later than originally scheduled.
Carmona is slated to pitch Tuesday’s series opener against Seattle.