CINCINNATI (AP)—Mike Mussina felt as if he was pitching in a different NL city, the one that’s a mile high and a homer haven.
Griffey mildly strained his right biceps on a swing against Mussina in the fifth inning, but stayed in the game for one more pitch and homered—a measure of how the ball flies in the majors’ most homer-prone park.
Aaron Boone, Sean Casey and Jason LaRue also homered off Mussina (7-4), who took his worst beating of the season. The Reds’ four homers came in a span of only 11 batters, and left Mussina feeling like he was in Denver.
“A couple of times tonight, they hit pitches that people usually don’t hit for home runs,” Mussina said. “In this ballpark, the ball flies out like Coors Field. It gets up in the air and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The Reds would like to think it has more to do with their power than the park. They’re second in the NL in homers.
“I don’t think you can say the homers here have been cheap,” said Casey, whose two-run shot put the Reds ahead to stay. “We hit them on the road, too.”
The Yankees returned to Cincinnati for the first time since 1976, when they got swept by the Big Red Machine in the World Series, and have dropped the first two games of the long-awaited rematch in front of capacity crowds.
“They’re excited,” manager Joe Torre said. “All of the talk has been about ‘the big bad Yankees, the rich Yankees.’ They went out and beat us last night, and they beat us up pretty good tonight.”
The Yankees have lost eight of their last 12 games overall, a skid that has cost them first place in the AL East and made owner George Steinbrenner antsy. Boston’s doubleheader sweep of Pittsburgh on Wednesday moved the Red Sox into first place for the first time since May 29, a half-game up on New York.
Since their 20-4 start, the Yankees have gone 13-21 and looked vulnerable.
“This is more than a (bad) stretch,” Mussina said. “When you go a couple of weeks or a month, that’s one of those stretches. But we haven’t played consistently good since we got out of April. We’re just not the same team we were then.”
The Reds are back to a .500 team, hoping they won’t have to carry on without Griffey. He already has missed 5 1/2 weeks with a dislocated right shoulder.
After Casey’s two-run homer put the Reds up 3-2 in the fifth, Griffey came up and fouled back a one-strike pitch, wincing in pain on his follow-through. A trainer and manager Bob Boone came out to check on him.
“It happens from time to time,” said Griffey, who returned before the shoulder was completely healed. “I feel all right. I just had a little tingling down my arm. After a few seconds, the numbness goes away. The doc said if I took a funky swing, to be ready for it.”
The next pitch was offspeed, and Griffey hit it into the right-field stands for his 475th career homer, tying Willie Stargell and Stan Musial for 22nd place. He held the right arm carefully at his side as he rounded the bases, then gave high-fives with his other arm before heading for the trainer’s room.
Tests on the shoulder were negative, and the injury was diagnosed as a strained biceps. Griffey probably will sit out the final game of the series, but isn’t expected to miss significant time.
Mussina had allowed only six homers in his 11 previous starts this season. His earned run average jumped from 2.62—second in the AL—to 3.09.
Mussina last gave up four homers in a 6-2 loss to Texas last Aug. 23. Hiscareer high is five homers by California on July 1, 1994.
Yankees SS Derek Jeter opened the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games. … 2B Alfonso Soriano singled in each of his first two at-bats for his 26th multihit game, the most in the AL. He leads the league with 78 hits overall. … The Reds stole three bases off Mussina, who hadn’t allowed a steal in his last 14 regular-season starts. … 2B Juan Castro, who had a game-ending single in the Reds’ 4-3 victory on Tuesday night, was a late scratch because of a stiff neck. … Griffey has 33career homers against the Yankees.