NEW YORK (AP)—Well on the way to his 200th career victory, tough guy Kevin Brown got a bit misty.
Blame it on the weather, rather than emotion.
“The mound was definitely slick. It was tough keeping your spikes,” Brown said.
Still, the setting made it special as Brown became the 101st pitcher in major league history to win No. 200. Brown and Mussina are the first teammates to accomplish the feat in the same season.
“It’s great to be here and get it here,” Brown said. “It was a wonderful atmosphere, a great backdrop for it to happen.”
Brown kept the final ball as a souvenir, but said he wasn’t much of a numbers person.
“Honestly, I really haven’t thought too much about it,” he said. “It seems like we’ve been bouncing all over the world the last month and a half. I’ve been busy getting unpacked and moved in.”
Brown beat the Devil Rays for the third time this season, defeating them at the Tokyo Dome, Tropicana Field and Yankee Stadium. In all three outings, he gave up one run in seven innings.
Brown was the first pitcher to make his first three starts for the Yankees against the same team since Tom Morgan in 1951, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Pitching in short sleeves and often cleaning his muddy cleats, Brown gave up five hits. He also issued his first walk of the season after going 15 innings without one.
Yankees manager Joe Torre managed to draw a quick smile from Brown during a late trip to the mound. Brown was getting on himself and Torre told him he was more than OK.
“He’s never really happy with himself,” Torre said.
Brown (3-0) is 200-131 in a career that started in 1986 with Texas. The 39-year-old righty also played for Baltimore, Florida, San Diego and Los Angeles before an offseason trade that sent Jeff Weaver to the Dodgers.
Mussina beat the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, making it to 200 on his fifth try. The Yankees were off Monday and rained out Tuesday.
In last year’s regular-season finale, New York’s David Wells posted his 200th victory.
As for a reason he and Brown both made it this year, Mussina said, “That’s because we’re all old.”
“A lot of pitchers have come and gone and not won 200 games or gotten close,” said Mussina, 35. “I know what it means to him and what it meant to me.”
“He keeps getting out when he needs them,” Tampa Bay’s Tino Martinez said. “We just couldn’t seem to break through with men on base. We had our chances.”
As the mist turned to light rain in the middle innings, the dampened crowd turned its attention to this weekend. Fans started an anti-Red Sox chant because after an off-day, the Yankees begin a much-balleyhooed series against Boston at Fenway Park.
“I don’t think you can surpass last year’s enthusiasm,” Torre said. “Maybe I’m underplaying it a bit. It’s too early to let yourself get sky high.”
Carl Crawford singled home the Devil Rays’ run in the third. Tampa Bay played its first road game of the season and dropped to 4-4, dented by thosethree losses to Brown.
Rodriguez went 2-for-4 for his first multihit game with the Yankees. … Crawford was caught stealing on a pitchout after his RBI single. He had been 6-for-6 in steal attempts this year, and led the AL with 55 swipes last season. … Former Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, now a senior adviser for the Devil Rays, watched from the stands. Zimmer left New York in the offseason because of a feud with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. “I made no mistake doing what I’ve done,” Zimmer said. “I can live with it and I am living with it.” … Tampa Bay’s Jose Cruz Jr. reached base safely for the 28th straight game, the longest active streak in the majors. … Yankees CF Kenny Lofton has not played since Friday because of tightness in his right quadriceps. He testedit before the game, and Torre hopes Lofton can play by the weekend.