Mussina L9-3 | 5IP | 10H | 6ER | 0BB | 1K | 4.43ERA
NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina isn't sorry to see the Arizona Diamondbacks leave town. After the Yankees won the first two games of their World Series rematch against the defending champions, Mussina was roughed up for six runs in five innings on Wednesday, as Arizona avoided a sweep with a 9-5 win.
Mussina, who was 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two World Series starts against the D-Backs last season, knew early on in the game that he did not have his best stuff working for him. But because of the fact that Arizona doesn't face Mussina regularly, he thought he may have a chance to work his way through the game.
"It can be a benefit or a challenge. In the same respect that I've never seen them, they never see me," Mussina said. "They got to me pretty good in the series last year, so maybe they're one of those teams I'm glad we don't play very often. They seem to see me well and get good swings off of me."
The first good swing of the game came from backup catcher Rod Barajas, who drove a 2-0 Mussina fastball over the left field wall in the second inning to give Arizona a 2-0 lead. Barajas, who had just three extra-base hits and a .154 average in 65 at-bats this season, also homered in Game 5 last year against Mussina.
"I can usually tell pretty early in a game whether I'm going to be sharp or it's going to be work, and I felt like it was going to be work," Mussina said. "Even the swing in the first that [Luis] Gonzalez took to end the inning with a flyout, I could tell that it was too good a pitch and I was fortunate that he didn't take it out of the park then."
Both teams scored a run in the fourth, sending the contest to the fifth with Arizona leading 3-1. That was the inning that did Mussina in. With a man on first and two outs, Erubiel Durazo singled to bring Steve Finley to the plate. Finley -- who also homered against him in Game 5 -- hit the first of his two home runs, a three-run shot on a 2-0 cutter that gave the D-Backs a 6-1 advantage.
"Mussina kept shaking off on 2-0 and I didn't look for any pitch in particular," Finley said. "I didn't know if it was going to be a fastball or not. He tried to slow a slider or a cutter and he just left it over the plate a little bit."
"I was doing OK, hanging in there at 3-1. But after Durazo fisted one into the outfield, I hung one to Finley and he took it out of the park," Mussina said. "It was a fight, and they took advantage of my pitches that were up or right down the middle. You have to give them credit."
Although Mussina didn't walk a batter in his five innings of work, his location wasn't very sharp on Wednesday. He said his fastballs were right over the plate and his breaking balls were hanging high in the strike zone.
"I don't think anything was there today. I didn't really have a pitch to go to most of the day," Mussina said. "Usually somewhere along the line, I can find a pitch to go to when I need an out, and I couldn't today. It was a struggle from the beginning."
"It just looked like he left some breaking balls hanging," said manager Joe Torre. "I know Finley hit a home run off a breaking ball. He had some good stuff in the bullpen, but when you get out on the mound sometimes it is not as good. It just didn't look like he had the breaking ball that he normally has."
Even though Mussina will have an extra day to rest before his next start, Monday at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, Torre decided to pull him after just 86 pitches.
"He was up near 90 pitches," Torre said, "so we decided to save what was left in the tank for his next start."
Mussina, who defeated the San Francisco Giants last Friday night despite having less than 24 hours to study them, said he watched a couple of tapes of Arizona games against the Boston Red Sox from last weekend to prepare for his start.
"No matter what I see, or how I prepare, I have to be able to execute and put the ball in a place that's effective," Mussina said. "I couldn't do that."
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