Mike Mussina admits he has a sweet tooth for strikeouts.
"It's being young and greedy," the 22-year-old Rochester Red Wings pitcher said.
Mussina went into last night's start against the Toledo Mud Hens second in the Class AAA International League with 94 strikeouts. He recorded a season-high 10 in his previous start, Friday in Richmond, Va.
The strikeouts have come with strings attached. Mussina has not pitched out of the eighth inning in any of his 17 starts. The strikeouts eat up so many pitches that he has only two complete games, both seven-inning doubleheader games.
"I'd give up a couple of strikeouts a game if they'd give me a chance to finish one," he said. "I get to the seventh, and I have 110 pitches. They're not going to let me finish."
Throwing a changeup or curve early in the count would get a grounder or pop-up, but he still can't resist the challenge of the three extra fastballs that may get him another strikeout.
It takes an awful lot of effort from opponents to beat him. Going into last night, the last 28 hits off him had been singles.
* The Red Wings lost Scott Meadows, Luis Mercedes, Oddibe McDowell and Tommy Shields to injuries during a five-game series against the Richmond Braves last Tuesday through Friday, reducing their 23-man roster to nine healthy position players. With no extra players, pitcher Rob Woodward served as designated hitter Saturday against the Columbus Clippers.
Woodward, who hadn't batted since 1981, his senior year at Lebanon (N.H.) High School, when he hit .412 with seven homers, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and two ground outs.
Meadows (cracked bone in left hand) and Mercedes (strained hamg) went on the disabled list. McDowell (shoulder) was still day-to-day going into last night. Shields (bruised left hand) had returned during Monday's game, and won it with a grand slam in the 10th inning.
To help fill the void, the Red Wings had activated coach Mike Young and signed free agent Tommy Dunbar. They already had called up Tyrone Kingwood and Ricky Gutierrez from the Class AA Hagerstown Suns. Ken Shamburg followed on Sunday.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Kingwood hit in each of his first 5 games, 3 times collecting multiple hits, and stole a base in each of his first 4 games since being brought up Friday. . . . Left-hander Israel Sanchez, with the league's second-best ERA at 2.94, went on the DL because of a sore elbow. . . . Benny Distefano has homered in consecutive games for the second time this season. . . . C Mike Eberle, who has played in 30 games and batted in only 26,has a 4-game hitting streak. . . . Mark McLemore has hit in 12 of 16 games.
The drive to their first appearance in the Eastern League playoffs continues unabated for the Suns, despite the loss of three more key players -- Ricky Gutierrez, Ken Shamburg and Tyrone Kingwood -- to Rochester.
Responding to the news, the team bashed the Williamsport Bills in a 25-3 game and set Class AA records for most runs and most hits (23) and hit two grand slams (by Paul Carey and Tim Holland) for the first time.
The Suns have lost 10 players to promotion this season.
They picked up first baseman Mel Wearing, who had three hits in his first game, and outfielder Roy Gilbert, who will share center with Vic Hithe, from the Class A Frederick Keys.
* MISCELLANEOUS: OF Ed Yacopino, released by the Pirates organization, was the league's Player of the Week for the second time in 3 weeks. He is batting .432 in 20 games this month with 18 RBI and has a 7-game batting streak. . . . The Suns have received IF Greg Roth on loan from the White Sox system. Roth is a former member of the Canadian Olympic team. . . . Lofton broke Luis Mercedes' club record for steals with his 40th. He has a stolen base against every team in the league, home and road.
The trickle-down effect has cost the Keys their top power hitter, Mel Wearing, and outfielder Roy Gilbert, who is returning to Hagerstown for the third time this season.
Wearing was forced to miss the Carolina League All-Star Game because of his promotion to the Suns. He was hitting .263 with 11 home runs, 14 doubles and 53 RBI for the Keys.
To fortify the roster, first baseman-outfielder Brent Miller was sent to Frederick from Kane County (Ill.), but an arm injury was keeping him out of the lineup.
* MISCELLANEOUS: Because of injury, both catchers missed the All-Star Game. Cesar Devares is on the DL with a blood clot in his leg, and Ed Horowitz has a fractured bone in his right hand. . . . P Shane Hall (shoulder) is the third Key on the DL. He is 0-6 despite a 3.42 ERA and 2-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio. . . . Top draft choice Mark Smith is scheduled to make his first pro appearance, against the Bulls tonight. It is the start of a 6-game homestand. Smith, who will bat third, will donate a portion of his signing bonus to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center pediatric oncology division.