Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mussina was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1st round (20th pick overall) of the 1990 amateur draft. In 1992, his first full season with the Orioles, Mussina went 18-5 with a 2.54 ERA. Mussina continued to post good numbers in Baltimore, featuring two back-to-back 19-win seasons in 1995 and 1996. Mussina helped the Orioles to the playoffs in 1996 where they eventually lost in the ALCS to the Yankees and again in 1997, where they lost in the ALCS to the Cleveland Indians.
Following the 2000 season, Mussina opted to become a free agent and on November 30, he signed a contract with the New York Yankees that netted him over US$10 million in salary each year. With the Yankees, Mussina continued to post above average numbers, going 17-11, 18-10 and 17-8 in his first three seasons with the Yankees, but his postseason record was a mere 3-4 including a game where he gave up nine runs in four innings in a loss to the Anaheim Angels in 2002.
By 2004, however, after high-profile defections by Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells, Mussina had become the ace of a questionable Yankee pitching rotation. Mussina went only 12-9 in the regular season, but had a perfect game through seven innings in the first game of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox, a game that the Yankees would eventually win.
Brushes With Perfection
Mussina is perhaps most infamously known for his collection of near-perfect outings:
- On May 30, 1997, he retired the first 25 Cleveland Indians he faced before surrendering a single to Sandy Alomar Jr. with one out in the ninth; Mussina struck-out the last two batters for a one-hit 3-0 shut-out.
- On August 4, 1998, he retired the first 23 Detroit Tigers he faced before surrendering a double to Frank Catalanotto with two outs in the eighth; Mussina gave up another hit in the eventual 4-0 shut-out.
- On September 2, 2001, he had his most heart-breaking brush with perfection when he retired the first 26 Boston Red Sox he faced; he then ran pinch-hitter Carl Everett (batting for Joe Oliver) to a 1-and-2 count before Everett slapped a single to right. Mussina retired leadoff man Trot Nixon on a grounder, striking out 13 batters in a one-hit 1-0 shut-out.
- On April 14, 2002, he retired the first 16 Boston Red Sox he faced before surrendering a single to Doug Mirabelli with one out in the sixth; Mussina was replaced by reliever Ramiro Mendoza, and the Yankees finished off the 6-2 win.
- On October 12, 2004, he retired the first 19 Boston Red Sox he faced in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series before surrendering a double to Mark Bellhorn with one out in the seventh; Mussina was replaced by Tanyon Sturtze, and the Yankees finished off the 10-7 win.
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