Mussina Faces Santana When Yankees Continue Series vs. Twins Print
Tuesday, 03 July 2007 20:23

Santana Perfection

Mike Mussina has never lost a regular-season home start against the Minnesota Twins, while Johan Santana has never lost a regular-season outing against the New York Yankees.

The two starters will put their streaks on the line Wednesday when the Twins and Yankees continue a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Oddsmakers have made Minnesota -120 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Minnesota -120 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Mussina (4-5, 4.63 ERA) is 10-0 with a 2.82 ERA in 13 home starts against the Twins (42-40), including 1-0 with a 4.74 ERA in three outings with the Yankees. He's 20-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 29 career starts against them, although he's 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA in his last five.

The right-hander, however, lost two playoff starts while opposing Santana (9-6, 2.76) at Yankee Stadium despite posting a 3.21 ERA in those games. The Yankees (39-41) recovered both times from Mussina's defeats to win those Division Series in four games in 2003 and 2004.

Santana, meanwhile, is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts against the Yankees, not including his 1-1 mark with a 3.20 ERA in four playoff outings. Including the postseason, though, he's had trouble against New York's Hideki Matsui, who's batting .435 (10-for-23) against him.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner is putting together his best stretch of the season, going 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last four outings. Santana won at Detroit on Friday by giving up one run and five hits over six innings of an 11-1 win.

"Santana was very good against a very good lineup over there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He made pitches when he had to."

Santana has won three straight starts on the road, where he's 6-2 in nine starts with a 1.77 ERA - the second-best mark in the AL.

Mussina has pitched well in his last five starts, going 2-2 with a 2.56 ERA. He was sharp in winning his last outing, allowing one run and six hits over seven innings in Friday's 2-1 victory over Oakland.

"It's as important for us now to play well here leading into the break as anything we've done all season," he said.

Mussina presents another tough assignment in this series for Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, who is 0-for-25 against Roger Clemens after three hitless at-bats on Monday. Hunter is 11-for-44 (.250) with nine strikeouts against Mussina, including the postseason.

Hunter is 0-for-6 in the series and was ejected by plate umpire Ron Kulpa in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 8-0 loss. He had been called out on strikes in the previous inning.

The Yankees are in position to win three straight for the first time since a season-high nine-game winning streak from June 5-14 after stifling the Twins' bats in the first two games. Minnesota had four hits in a 5-1 loss on Monday and managed only five in Tuesday's defeat.

After Clemens went eight innings in the series opener, Chien-Ming Wang scattered four hits in seven innings on Tuesday.

The Twins have scored a total of one run in their last three games after scoring 27 over their previous three contests.

"We're making too many mental mistakes and some physical mistakes," Gardenhire said. "We need to find a way to score some runs."

New York's Alex Rodriguez was back in the lineup Tuesday one day after suffering a strained left hamstring. He went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 15 at-bats, and was pulled after the sixth inning with the Yankees up by eight.

"He was fine," manager Joe Torre said. "I just took him out when the score got up there."

Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are the only Twins with two hits in the series; the rest of the lineup is 5-for-47 (.106).

The Twins have dropped 15 of their last 17 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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