Mussina tries for his 18th victory Sunday as the Yankees finish a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
New York (76-66) will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The Yankees have 20 games left, and trail AL wild-card leader Boston by 7 1/2 games.
“We have 20 games left. Last time I checked we weren’t 21 games out,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter insisted.
While their team goals probably will not be met this year, the Yankees still have individual milestones within reach. Mussina (17-7, 3.39 ERA) has a chance to reach the 20-win plateau for the first time in his 18-year career.
The 39-year-old right-hander is sporting his lowest ERA since he went 17-11 with a 3.15 ERA in 2001 - his first season with the Yankees. His highest win total with New York, 18, came in 2002.
Mussina twice won 19 games with Baltimore, in 1995 and 1996.
“Obviously, you would like to see a guy that has been so good for so long be able to achieve that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s kind of neat that he’s chasing it.”
It’s unclear whether Mussina will be back with the Yankees next season, but his recent form suggests he has plenty left to offer.
Mussina is 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA in seven outings since his last loss on July 28. He’s also won eight straight decisions over Seattle, posting a 3.29 ERA in 10 starts during that span. He is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA ERA in two starts against the Mariners this year.
Mussina will be tested right from the start by Seattle leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki, who is hitting .368 (14-for-38) over his career in their matchups.
The Yankees improved to 7-1 against the Mariners (55-86) in the season series with a 7-4 victory on Saturday. Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu each homered and had three hits as New York avoided a third straight loss overall.
Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre went 2-for-4 in the loss to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Beltre is batting .451 (23-for-51) with 13 runs scored during his run.
Mariners starter Carlos Silva (4-14, 6.53) again tries to avoid matching a career high with his 15th loss. He pitched poorly, but avoided that fate Monday when he gave up six runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 12-6 win at Texas.
The right-hander has lost four straight starts to New York, posting a 10.80 ERA in those outings, including a 13.00 ERA in two losses this year. Silva, though, has never faced the Yankees in Seattle.
Abreu (9-for-14) and Jeter (7-for-15) have both had success against Silva.