Mussina doesn't need a 14K repeat today

April 14, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

All things considered, Mike Mussina hoped he wouldn't do anything to impress Sparky Anderson when he pitched against the Detroit Tigers this afternoon. A nice, comfortable win, without any spectaculars, would be fine, thank you very much.

It was almost a year ago, last May 16, that Mussina dazzled the Tigers and their manager, striking out 14 batters in a 3-2 victory. The win improved Mussina's record to 5-1, and left Anderson groping for superlatives.

"He's the boss," the Tigers manager said after the game. "They can talk about Roger [Clemens] all they want, but he's the one right now."

But Mussina lost his next start (9-3 to Milwaukee), then was a principal in the infamous brawl with Seattle on June 6 and everything went downhill from there.

Despite finishing with a 14-6 record, Mussina was only 5-4 after June 11, spent six weeks on the disabled list, and finished the year with an inflated 4.46 ERA. Instead of being "The Boss," he was lost for most of the second half of the season.

There has been a lot of speculation that the game against the Tigers last May 16 had as much to do with his injuries as the fight with the Mariners. Evidence doesn't support that contention (he was 8-2 and had won three in a row after beating Seattle), but manager Johnny Oates has insisted there will be no repeat of that 141-pitch performance.

Despite a lackluster spring, Mussina hasn't shown any carryover effects from last year's injuries in his first two starts this season. He was looking for his third straight win today when the Orioles went after the deciding game of the three-game series in Detroit.

The win last May was Mussina's only decision against the Tigers last year, but he is 4-0 against them lifetime. His opponent, Mike Moore, is 15-12 against the Orioles during his career, but was 0-2 last year.

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