Mussina ND17-11 | 4IP | 1H | 0ER | 0BB | 4K | 3.15ERA
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Three Yankee pitchers combined to two-hit the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on the final day of the regular season but, most importantly, Orlando "El Duque'' Hernandez appeared ready to pitch in the playoffs.
Hernandez (4-7) pitched four innings, allowing only one hit as the Yankees beat the Rays, 1-0, Sunday.
"It's not too often that you lose three out of four in a series and are pleased with it," Yankees Manager Joe Torre said. "But I'm a lot more confident now that I know more about our team health.''
Torre mentioned good outings by Hernandez, David Justice and Andy Pettitte in the series as making him less concerned than he was a week ago.
Yankee Pitching Coach Mel Stottlemyre said Hernandez threw better than he expected.
"His command was better than what I thought it would be," Stottlemyre said. "Now, he'll have at least one side session and possibly two. I'll check in with him and see how he is."
Torre said if Hernandez checks out fine, he'll start Game 4 at Oakland, if necessary.
"Duque threw strikes, he had command of a couple of pitches and he was aggressive out there," Torre said. "He pitched four effective innings. He was pleased. I was pleased. And that's what is important."
The Yankees finished the regular season 95-65, while the Rays, trying to avoid losing 100 games for the first time in franchise history, could not complete the sweep.
"I'm very pleased with (the way the season went)," Torre said. "We won games we had to win. This ballclub knows what the fight is."
Mike Mussina went the first four innings, allowing only one hit. He will start Game 3 of the ALDS in Oakland on Saturday.
"The objective was to just get out there one more time," Mussina said. "It was just a tune-up."
The teams matched zeroes on the scoreboard for the first seven innings before Clay Bellinger, playing center field and hitting .150, hit a home run to left to make it 1-0.
After a walk, Hernandez gave up a double to Randy Winn in the seventh inning to put runners at second and third with two outs but then he struck out Aubrey Huff to end the inning.
Mariano Rivera earned his 50th save by working a perfect ninth.
"Overall, it was a pretty good day," Sottlemyre said. "We pretty much accomplished what we wanted to. Now we have something to build on."
Rays starter Paul Wilson pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks, while striking out six.
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