Mussina aiming to keep Yanks rolling

Mussina aiming to keep Yanks rolling

Mike Mussina helped to defuse an uncomfortable moment for Yankees manager Joe Torre in the last week, as the decision was reached to skip over the veteran right-hander once more in favor of staff ace Chien-Ming Wang for a start at Kansas City.

Displaying poise and restraint, Mussina accepted the snub, immediately offering his availability in relief to back up Wang's Sunday start against the Royals. Those services were not needed, but Mussina will be rewarded with an assignment against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, another tune-up opportunity that could help him reclaim his standing in New York's rotation.

"That means a lot to me, just the fact that he's going out there trying to win a ballgame, not trying to prove something," Torre said. "That's the most important to me."

A 247-game winner, Mussina's 2007 campaign has been pockmarked with losses (10 of them) and, more troubling, a feeling of being lost on the mound, not believing that anything positive will happen when he releases the baseball.

Those feelings and Mussina's negative mindset have dissipated, though, as he appeared more comfortable in a 3 2/3-inning relief appearance backing up a faltering Roger Clemens on Sept. 3 against Seattle. Wednesday will mark Mussina's first start since an ill-fated Aug. 27 assignment at Detroit, when he lasted just three innings and allowed six runs in a 16-0 drubbing by the Tigers. Torre said his stamina should not be affected even given the long layoff from starting.

"I still think he's the same as he would be if he never came out of the rotation," Torre said. "I think 100 pitches are certainly reasonable. I don't think he's been away long enough for that to be a situation."

The Blue Jays counter with right-hander Dustin McGowan, coming off a career-high 12 strikeouts over eight innings vs. Tampa Bay to pick up his second consecutive win. He has pitched seven innings or more in his past three starts.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Mike Mussina (8-10, 5.51 ERA)
Mussina will try once again for that elusive win No. 248, which would tie him with Amos Rusie for 44th place on baseball's all-time list. He will be facing Toronto for the first time in 2007, but he will be making his 500th career appearance and 39th start against the Jays, against whom he has logged 21 of his wins.

TOR: RHP Dustin McGowan (10-8, 3.90 ERA)
McGowan isn't intimidated by the Yankees. He faced them on July 19 at Yankee Stadium and twirled seven innings of two-run ball, scattering four hits while walking three and striking out three. In his career against New York, he is 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA in seven games (three starts).

Player to watch
Derek Jeter is 5-for-11 (.455) lifetime vs. McGowan.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 1-0, 2.25) at Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, 8-7, 3.56), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 13-8, 3.78) at Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 14-12, 4.44), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 18-6, 3.29) at Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 18-6, 3.27), 3:55 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.