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Results hurt, but Mussina says he's fine after defeat


CHICAGO -- Other than slightly damaged pride, Mike Mussina had no problems after absorbing a 12-1 beating Friday night at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.

"He's a little agitated that things aren't going good for him right now," said manager Johnny Oates. "But nobody has ever played an entire career without experiencing some tough times, and he's having one right now."

After giving up eight hits and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings Friday night, Mussina was upset. He has lost two in a row for the first time since losing the first two decisions of his career -- both times against the White Sox -- and he was not pleased.

But, after reporting nothing other than normal day-after soreness, Mussina said there is nothing physically wrong with him. "I feel fine," he said.

Since being involved in the brawl between the Orioles and Seattle Mariners on June 6, Mussina (9-4) has gone 1-2 with an 11.50 ERA in four starts. He missed his last turn because of biceps tendinitis, a condition he said was unrelated to the fight, but reported no ill side effects from his 81-pitch outing Friday night.

"Obviously, the first thing anybody is going to ask is whether I'm OK [physically]," said Mussina. "But I felt a lot better than the results showed. They just hit some balls where my guys weren't standing, I got behind some hitters and I made some mistakes."

Oates, who said his reports on Mussina were good enough that he didn't bother talking to the 24-year-old right-hander, expressed no concern.

"For what it's worth, from an outsider's [his] point of view, I just think Mike got a little frustrated," said Oates.

"He was upset because he couldn't make things happen. He gave up five hits in one inning that weren't hit very hard, and he's not used to that. He may have lost his concentration a little bit."

Mussina practically admitted as much when he was asked about the pitch Robin Ventura hit for a grand slam that broke the game open. "To tell you the truth, I don't know where it was -- it all happened so fast," he said.

"I guess it was right down the middle. I was trying to come inside to him, but obviously I didn't get it in far enough."

Ventura's home run was the only ball hit with any authority off Mussina, but his pitching line hardly reflected that fact. "You can't say it's all bad luck," said Mussina. "I'm doing something wrong, making some mistakes, and I have to figure out what it is and correct it."

vTC If there was any concern in the Orioles' clubhouse about Mussina's condition, it was well hidden. "He looked to me like he did a month ago," said catcher Chris Hoiles. "I didn't have the feeling that he was a pitcher who was having [physical] problems."

Mussina went through his normal day-after-a-start routine with trainer Richie Bancells before last night's game.

"He said he felt great and that he felt good last [Friday] night," said Bancells. "He didn't have anything other than the normal soreness you have after pitching."

In all likelihood, Mussina's chances of being named to the American League All-Star team vanished Friday night. That is a bad news-good news situation for the Orioles. As much as they would like to have Mussina pitch in the game at Camden Yards a week from Tuesday, they would prefer him to be fresh for the season's second half.

He will make one more start before the break, Wednesday night in Kansas City, Mo., and then have seven days of rest before making his next start a week from Thursday night against the Minnesota Twins.


A look at Mike Mussina's stats from before and after the Orioles' brawl with the Seattle Mariners on June 6:

.. .. .. .. .. ..G ...Rec. ..IP ..H ..ER ..BB ..SO ..ERA

Through the brawl ..12 ..8-2 ...91 1/3 .71 .29 ..20 ..63 .2.86

After the brawl .. ..4 ..1-2 ...18 ..32 .23 ...7 ..15.11.50

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