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October 4, 2005

by SG

When Joe Torre announced that Mike Mussina would not be making the start on Sunday so he could start Game 1 of the playoffs, a lot of people questioned it, and rightfully so. Mussina had been inconsistent and then injured, and had 2 starts after coming back from the DL, one good and one lousy.

I felt it was a risk worth taking, because without Mussina this team is going to have a tough time advancing, and if he threw up a clunker, the Yankees would still have room to recover.

Moose did not throw up a clunker. Instead, he pitched very well, mixing a 90 mph fastball and good curve with some command. He only lasted 5.2 due to some long AB, but did not walk a batter, and left with a 4-0 lead. He was supported by some good defense by Bubba Crosby and Hideki Matsui. Crosby may not get a hit in this whole series, but I think he should play almost every game in CF. I'd possibly not start him for the games that Chien-ming Wang starts, due to Wang's extreme ground-ball tendencies, but other than that I think the Yankees can live with him.

I thought Joe Torre managed an almost perfect game tonight. When Mussina started tiring in the sixth, he pulled him at the right time. I thought Al Leiter pitching to Darin Erstad was the right move, and I thought pulling him after Erstad was retired was also the right move as well. As inconsistent as Leiter has been this year, as a reliever his first innings have been pretty good. I have more faith in him as the lefty reliever than I would with Alan Embree right now, although I think he needs to be watched extremely closely, and pulled at the first signs of trouble. I would have rather seen Aaron Small relieve Leiter instead of Tanyon Sturtze, but Torre wisely did not give Sturtze enough time to implode. He brought in Flash Gordon at the right time, who pitched well despite needing two difficult catches in RF by Gary Sheffield to keep his line perfect.

Mariano Rivera did not have sharp control tonight, but he managed to get the job done, and the Yankees took back the home field advantage that the Yankees lost on Sunday.

I felt that the Yankees had to split one of the first two games in Anaheim to win this series, and this was a good start. I'd love to see Chien-ming Wang baffle the Angels tomorrow, and as a team that does not work the count he may do okay against them. However, even if they lose tomorrow I think they'll be in decent shape coming back to the Bronx.

On a completely unrelated note, I hope all the people who ran Jose Contreras out of town got to watch him dominate the Red Sox today. Would Contreras have succeeded in New York? Maybe not. The question is why wouldn't he? It's not because of some mythical ability to "pitch in New York", it is because of the coaching staff and support(or lack thereof) that he is receiving in Chicago that he was not receiving in New York.