Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Mussina Inning

One of the subplots of this season has been seeing how this team ages--particularly the pitching staff. For Randy "Four Shot" Johnson, it's been a matter of a slightly reduced strikeout rate, and a dramatically increased home run rate, as the Unit's mighty fastball leaves the building, leaving the slider as the tall lefty's only effective pitch. For Kevin Brown it meant chronic injuries finally becoming critical--to the point where Brown's no longer effective, even when relatively healthy. For Bernie Williams it has meant seeing the occasional flash of brilliance as once every great while he connects with a swing that makes you feel like it is 1998 again, followed by watching him flail away weakly, both in the field and at the plate, during the rest of the game. Tino Martinez is much the same, but at least his glove still works.

Jorge Posada's bat is noticeably slower. Gary Sheffield's isn't, but his personality is surlier than ever. Rey Sanchez and Ruben Sierra are injured. A lot. Meanwhile, the Rivera/Gordon/Sturtze Triad are tired out from overuse.

The most interesting story from the Yankees' 34 and over demographic is Mike Mussina. For the most part, he has adjusted to being older and no longer throwing as hard. The side effect has been the Mussina Inning, a thing so scary that YES should get sponsorship for it. Every Mussina start, the opposition gets one inning where Mussina simply doesn't do as good a job mixing it up as usual, and for that inning, he's a sitting duck. Tonight, for example, the Mussina Inning was the fifth, when the Blue Jays knocked Moose out of the game by posting an eight spot against him. That's eight runs in one inning, capped by a three-run homer by (who else?) Vernon Wells.

The Yanks rallied, in too-little too-late fashion, 9-5. It's hard to rally back from a nine run deficit.

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