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Mussina seeking normalcy

Thursday, November 1, 2001

Game 5 starter has chance to give Yankees lead

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina had eight days off between his outing in Game 2 of the ALCS and his start in the World Series opener. The rest didn't do much for him, as he went just three innings, giving up five runs in Arizona's 9-1 beating of New York.

Now, with his normal four-day routine between starts, Mussina will make his second start in his first World Series, hoping for better results as he looks to give the Yankees a 3-2 series lead heading back to Arizona.

"I always think that a layoff that long is not beneficial," said Mussina of his eight-day rest between his last starts. "This time around was more like it had been all year, so I would assume that everything is going to be fine. I made the assumption things were going to be fine last time but it did just not work out that way."

Mussina, who had been as hot as any pitcher this side of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson this postseason, was roughed up at Bank One Ballpark on Saturday. He allowed five runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk, producing his worst outing since Aug. 2, when he gave up eight runs in four innings against the Texas Rangers. His Game 5 start will mark his first appearance on the mound at Yankee Stadium in the postseason. Each of his three starts have been on the road, one in each series.

As far as Manager Joe Torre is concerned, Mussina has been everything he expected him to be since signing a long-term deal last November.

"I think Mike has lived up to expectations terrifically," said Manager Joe Torre. "I know he had a couple of games early in the season that he did not pitch well, but I think he's under the microscope. As far as I'm concerned, as far as his signature game this year with that Game 3 against Oakland where we needed to win, he went out there and pitched like Roger did last night.

After laying an egg in his World Series debut, will Mussina do anything differently this time than he did in Game 1? Will the memory of his Fall Classic clunker be with him when he takes the mound on Thursday?

"I'll probably just forget about it," Mussina said. "There's not much I'd like to remember, so I'll just forget about it. You know, it's a different setting, a different situation. We'll start new and try to go after him again."

"His first game of the series, it was one of those days," said Torre. "He just could not put the ball where he wanted to, he was missing his spots. His stuff was fine but he could not put people away and they got ahead in the count. Just one of those days where you chalk it up to doing better next time."

Mussina's opponent, D'Backs starter Miguel Batista, will be making his World Series debut on Thursday. Batista, who was pushed back to let Schilling pitch on three days' rest, said that though Mussina is a formidable foe, he has more to concern himself with.

"I don't worry about Mussina. I don't have to face him, my hitters do," Batista said. "I'm worried about my pitching and my approach, keeping my concentration in the game. He's a hell of a man to watch. He has been a great pitcher for years, but worrying about him pitching on the other side, I don't."


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