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New York Yankees: Clutch Mike Mussina Wasn't to Blame for the Yankees WS Defeats

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New York Yankees: Clutch Mike Mussina Wasn't to Blame for the Yankees WS Defeats
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The 2001 World Series was tied at two games each. Mike Mussina was facing the Arizona Diamondbacks Miguel Batista in the pivotal fifth game at Yankee Stadium.

Arizona had made short shift of Mussina in the Series opener, scoring five runs, three of which were earned, in only three innings. He was much more effective in Game 5, but after eight innings, Batista and the Diamondbacks led, 2-0.

In the fifth inning of a scoreless game in which the New York Yankees wasted numerous opportunities to break through against Batista, Steve Finley led off with a home run to give Arizona a 1-0 lead,

With two outs, rookie catcher Rod Barajas touched Mussina for the Diamondbacks second home run of the inning. That was all that Mussina would give up.

The Yankees ninth inning was a microcosm of the entire World Series.

Whenever the Yankees seemed beaten, they came back to win. When it appeared that they were going to win the Series, Mariano Rivera failed and the Yankees lost.

Jorge Posada led off the ninth with a double off Byung-Hyun Kim, but Shane Spencer grounded out and Chuck Knoblauch struck out.

Down to their final out for the second consecutive game, it would take a tremendous miracle for the Yankees to come back. Tino Martinez had hit a game-tying ninth inning home run the day before.

It seemed too much to think that Scott Brosius would repeat the feat. He did.

One of Mussina's biggest innings was the eighth, when Tony Womack led off with single. He attempted to steal second and reached third when Posada threw wildly in his attempt to throw out him out.

Mussina went to work. He got Craig Counsell to ground out at first to Tino Martinez. Womack held at third.
 
Luis Gonzalez struck out.

Mel Stottlemyre slowly walked to the mound. It was decided that the Yankees would walk left-hand batting Erubiel Durazo to face the right-handed hitting Matt Williams.

Mussina, as Mel Allen used to say, reached back for a little extra. Williams hit a harmless pop fly that second baseman Alfonso Soriano put away to end the inning.

It has become a cliche, but Mike Mussina really did give the Yankees a chance to win. He worked eight innings, allowed two runs on five hits, walked three and struck out 10.

Mussina has never been on a World Series winner, but with exception of the opening game against Arizona, he has pitched well in the Series.

Against the Florida (now Miami) Marlins in 2003, Mussina started the third game and out-pitched Josh Beckett in a 6-1 Yankees victory. It was Mussina's only start of the Series

In his career, Mussina is 1-1 in the World Series with a 3.00 ERA. Signing Mussina was one of the Yankees better moves.

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