Mike Mussina can solve puzzles because he has the answers. He knows the score and the count and the situation and the 11-letter word for 60 Across - Easily set off, as a temper: HAIRTRIGGER.
That is how many reacted to Mussina’s start against Boston last Thursday. For six days he was peppered with questions from critics.
“People have always doubted me,” Mussina said. “If you throw bad games, they doubt you. That’s part of it when you’re over 35 years old. Every time you step on a mound and give up two hits in an inning, that’s just how it is.”
Mussina gave the Yankees seven strong innings – two runs, four hits, one walk, three strikeouts – and a win in Chicago last night. He used the answer to 6 Down - English: SPIN.
“I had really good movement on my pitches,” he explained. “It seemed like I jammed a lot of guys. They were diving out over the plate and the ball ran back in on them. The movement was my biggest asset today.”
Mussina keeps piling up the numbers: 252 wins – that moves him by Bob Gibson and into 42nd place on the all-time Major League list – and 2,763 strikeouts. That is 68 Across - Mucho: LOTSA.
“I think all these things will settle in more when I don’t play anymore,” Mussina said. “Wherever I stop at, I’ll see who I have been able to pass. Bob Gibson is a pretty big name. Whitey Ford (236 wins) was a pretty big name, too. There are some guys that I’ve been able to get by who are pretty well known and have been able to do a lot in this game. I’m just lucky people keep giving me the chance to pitch.”
It’s because of what he does to hitters. That is the answer to 43 Down - Tied up: INKNOTS.