Yankees 9, Pirates 0
“We played well, nice and crisp,” manager Joe Torre said, “and I certainly thought pitching had a lot to do with it.”
With George Steinbrenner watching from his private box, the Yankees put on a performance worthy of their $200 million payroll—nearly $163 million more than the Pirates—and one much tighter than their just-completed 3-9 road trip that Torre called “terrible.”
Converted second baseman Tony Womack made a diving catch in left field; center fielder Bernie Williams and second baseman Robinson Cano executed a perfect relay to Jorge Posada to get Matt Lawton trying to score in the sixth inning; and beleaguered fading star Jason Giambi turned jeers to cheers with a two-run double.
“We came out and scored, kept putting pressure on them and we played good defense,” Mussina said. “It was just a night I was glad to be pitching. I got some breaks, got some runs scored for us.”
After finishing a 9-4 homestand with a 7-5, 13-inning loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, the Pirates dropped consecutive games for the first time since May 24-25.
“Pick your poison,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. The changeup, the breaking ball, the cutter or the 92 mph fastball. He had it all.”
The last pitch between these teams resulted in one of the most well-known home runs in baseball history—and certainly the most dramatic: In the 1960 World Series, Bill Mazeroski homered leading off the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 to give Pittsburgh an improbable Series win. It’s still the only Game 7 World Series-winning homer.
Tuesday’s game set off on a memorable course, too.
Mussina (7-4) retired the first 14 batters before Daryle Ward hit a grounder over first base that first baseman Giambi didn’t even make a play for, thinking it was foul.
Mussina, possibly feeling snake-bit again after having taken three perfect games into the eight inning—one to two outs in the ninth—looked at first-base umpire Paul Emmel with a frown and pointed foul.
“I told him I thought the ball was foul,” said Mussina, who hadn’t see the replay.
To repeated calls of “Moose!” from the crowd of 44,541, Mussina easily handled a nervous-looking young Pirates squad. He struck out six while walking one, and needed 109 pitches—76 strikes—for his 23rd complete-game shutout and second this year.
Matsui was the designated hitter because he injured his right ankle Sunday and Torre was tentative to start him, but the Japanese star homered on the first pitch he saw from Kip Wells (5-5) in the second inning.
“He was sore,” Torre said. “We both had the same thought to come out after five innings but he’s a gutsy guy.”
New York added a run in the third on second baseman Jose Castillo’s throwing error and another in the fourth on Posada’s RBI single, with Matsui scoring his second run to make it 3-0.
In the top of the sixth, Jason Bay, who had two hits, hit a drive to right-center with Matt Lawton on first base. Lawton tried scoring from first but Williams made a perfect relay to Cano. His throw to Posada was right on line and beat Lawton by several feet, giving Posada time to block the plate and apply the tag.
Wells allowed seven runs—six earned—on eight hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings.
“They just continued to put pressure on me, whether it was me getting behind in counts or giving up leadoff hits or whatever,” Wells said. “It just seemed like they kind of had me on the ropes pretty much from the get go.”
Several Pirates players were given random drug tests before the game. … Mussina’s last complete game came May 7 against Oakland, a 5-0 victory. He has 56 career complete games. … It had been 18 games since the Pirates lost two straight.