Apparently Mike Mussina didn't get the memo. The New York Yankees are trying to battle their way out of a deep hole in the American League East and win their division. Yes, that is a tall order, and if the level of determination they showed on both Sunday and Monday indicated that they were serious about becoming contenders, all of that was lost on the "Moose."
As reported by Kat O'Brien in the Wednesday, May 23, 2007 edition of Newsday, "Mussina has never really gotten on track this season, and he did not do so last night. He gave up six runs in four innings in his first start of the year, then strained his hamstring in his next outing. Once he came off the disabled list, he had two decent games before reverting to inconsistency in his last two." Mussina is quoted as saying: "I felt like my arm had some life the first two," Mussina said. "I haven't felt like I had that life the last two." Not for nothing, if you don't feel like you can pitch before a game, then don't.
If the Yankees were ten games up over the Red Sox instead of the other way around, this writer would feel that Mussina was right to take the ball and give it a shot. At this point in their season, every single game, every inning, every pitch is important. Mussina should have either sucked it up and thrown like he never has before, or given the ball to someone else. Given that all of the rookies who have been called up this season have largely done a terrific job, one of them could have taken the mound on short rest.
Still, Mussina's lousy outing does not get the rest of the team off the hook. The team was back to it's typical (for this season) listless approach at the plate, and allowed Julian Tavarez to squelch their offense. Now they have to face Curt Schilling tonight and they can't win while asleep at the wheel. They need to pretend that this is the post season even though the Red Sox are on cruise control. The Yankees have to pretend that this is a big, important game like game seven of the 2004 ALCS. No, wait, scratch that.
Just when one thought that the Bombers have turned a corner over the last two days, they go ahead and fall flat on their collective face, again. What's Joe Torre's take on Tuesday night's game? "We had opportunities," manager Joe Torre said, "and we just couldn't get the big hit." (Kat O'Brien, Newsday)
This latest tepid performance has raised the level of frustration felt by many Yankees fans to the point where they feel everyone should be traded and Brian Cashman should replace all of them with young guys from Triple "A" Scranton. At least those young guys would play hard, and it would be worth rooting for a team full of players who are thankful that they are playing in the big leagues, instead of a collection of sloths resting on their past laurels, making excuses, and apologizing for nothing in particular except to say that they're sorry. Oh, I'm sorry, that last one was aimed just at Jason Giambi.