Mike Mussina took a line-drive shot off his right elbow in the third inning. He pitched through the pain and the fifth and now has a shot to win 20 games.
This would be Mussina’s first stop at 20, but he’s been in the neighborhood before. He has won 18 games three times and now 19 games three times, too.
Some say that close doesn’t count, but Mussina’s numbers certainly do. He has 269 victories – one better than Jim Palmer – and 2,810 strikeouts – seven more than Cy Young – in an 18-year career.
He has taken the ball in plenty of big games – there were the seven shutout innings against Oakland in the 2001 American League Division Series and the game-saving relief effort against Boston in the 2003 American League Championship Series – but every one is important to Mussina.
“You always want to go out and give your team a chance,” he told reporters last night. “The team gave me a chance tonight because I gave the bullpen a lot of outs to get. They’ve been throwing the ball really well when I come out. I can’t win 19 games without those guys pitching behind me.”
The whole team and everyone in the Bronx will be behind Mussina when he takes the mound on Sunday with a shot at 20.