“I threw the ball well in the first inning and tried to keep it going and keep it close,” he said.
Mussina (6-0) became the first Yankees pitcher to win his first six starts since Bob Turley won seven straight in 1958 in his Cy Young Award season.
Mussina leads the majors in victories and his nine strikeouts boosted his AL-leading total to 51. Showing exceptional control of his curve, he gave up six hits and walked none in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 1.60.
“When you’re pitching with guys the caliber of (Roger) Clemens, (Andy) Pettitte, (David) Wells and (Jeff) Weaver, you’ve got to turn it up a notch or you’re going to get left behind,” he said.
Twice before Mussina won eight in a row in the regular season, most recently with Baltimore in 1997.
Mariners manager Bob Melvin has seen plenty of Mussina over the years. Back in 1991, Melvin was Baltimore’s catcher when Mussina made his major league debut.
“This year he’s been phenomenal, throwing all of his pitches and getting them where he wants them,” Melvin said.
“He’s a tough guy to set on when he has everything working. When he’s got his command, he’s a tough customer,” he said.
On a night when Joel Pineiro (2-2) was sharp for Seattle, the Yankees relied on Mussina’s pitching and Mariano Rivera’s first save of the season. They also needed Soriano’s 10th homer and Posada’s all-around play.
Posada produced at the plate, hitting a tying home run in the fifth, and also behind it. The catcher pounced on Winn’s bunt to throw out the speedy Suzuki at second base in the fourth, then threw a perfect strike to cut down Winn trying to steal in the sixth.
In the seventh, Posada raced back to the box seats and reached into the stands to catch Mark McLemore’s foul pop. In the eighth, Posada threw out Suzuki when he tried to steal second with two outs.
“My arm is feeling a lot better, that’s the bottom line,” Posada said. “I have a lot more zip on the ball.”
Yankees manager Joe Torre can see a difference.
“He seems so much more calm. I think he’s developing a lot more confidence,” he said.
Rivera, activated this week after being on the disabled list all season, pitched a perfect ninth. He did it against the middle of the Mariners’ order.
The Yankees won for the 11th time in 14 games. They also took two of three from Seattle, a rare feat for them—this marked the first time in the regular season New York had won a series against Seattle at Yankee Stadium since 1999. Then again, the Yankees beat the Mariners in the AL championship series in 2000 and 2001.
Neither pitcher permitted a runner past first base until the fifth, when both teams scored a run.
Posada pulled the Yankees even when he led off the bottom half with his eighth home run.
Soriano pulled a drive down the left-field line to lead off the sixth.
“They were both mistakes,” Pineiro said.
Nick Johnson drew a walk in his 15th straight game. That’s the longest streak by a Yankees player since Willie Randolph did it for 17 games in a row in 1980-81. … Suzuki was 1-for-10 in the series and had not hit a ball out of the infield until singling twice. After getting a major league record 450 hits in his first two seasons, he’s batting just .252 this season. … At 22-6, the Yankees have not lost any of their nine series, winning eight of them and splitting the other. The last time they had such a successful streak to startthe season was 1955, when they went 4-0-7 in their first 11 series.