NEW YORK - Mike Mussina's reincarnation as a soft-tossing right-hander has produced impressive results. He entered last night with 13 wins, one off the American League lead, and had allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his previous 17 outings.
It seems that everyone is impressed by the transformation - except his former team. The Orioles knocked around Mussina for the second time this season en route to their best offensive game in nearly two years. They pounded out 17 hits and belted four home runs in a 13-4 rout of the New York Yankees before an announced 54,120 at Yankee Stadium.
"Those are fun games, man," Orioles designated hitter Aubrey Huff said. "In this stadium [during] my years with the Devil Rays, we took some poundings here. It's nice to come here and lay a good whooping on them a little bit."
The Orioles (50-55) emphatically broke the Yankees' 10-game home winning streak and beat New York for the sixth time in 10 tries this season. In doing so, they leaned on another ace-like performance by Jeremy Guthrie (7-8), who allowed one run and three hits over 6 1/3 innings, and an offense that got contributions from everyone.
By the sixth inning, every Orioles starter had a hit. By the eighth, eight of the nine starters had scored a run. The 13 runs were the most the Orioles have scored in a game since Aug. 19, 2006, against the Toronto Blue Jays. The 17 hits were the most by the Orioles in a nine-inning game this season, and the nine extra-base hits tied a season high.
Adam Jones finished 3-for-6 with a career-high five RBIs, including his first career grand slam, a towering shot to left field off Yankees reliever David Robertson in the sixth inning. Jones finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
"We hit balls hard," Jones said. "It was one of the few days this season where a lot of the balls we hit hard didn't find anybody."
Huff (2-for-4, three RBIs) completed the Orioles' home run derby in the eighth inning with a two-run shot off the facing of the upper deck in right field off Kyle Farnsworth. But the Orioles had set the tone much earlier against Mussina (13-7). Kevin Millar launched a three-run homer off him in the second inning, and Ramon Hernandez followed with a solo shot - the 1,000th hit of his career.
In two starts against the Orioles this season, Mussina has lasted just 5 2/3 innings and has surrendered a total of 13 runs (seven earned) and 13 hits. On May 20 at Yankee Stadium, Mussina retired just two Orioles, matching the shortest outing of his 18-year career. Last night, the six runs he allowed over five innings were a season high.
"I think it's just coincidence," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We don't have any magic formula against him. He's a great pitcher."
Guthrie, who, like Mussina, was a first-round pick after starring at Stanford, has long admired the veteran pitcher. However, he was more than happy to see his teammates get to him.
Presented with a 4-0 lead in the second and an 11-0 advantage in the sixth, Guthrie was rarely in trouble.
Again experimenting with a hitch in his delivery that he instituted during the All-Star break, Guthrie retired the first nine Yankees he faced and had allowed only three runners through five innings. His shutout bid was broken up in the seventh on Xavier Nady's solo homer.
"[The Arizona Diamondbacks'] Dan Haren was my inspiration for it," said Guthrie, referring to the changes to his delivery. "That's just the way he pitches, but I thought it would be a nice little wrinkle, so I worked on it over the All-Star break. I felt comfortable, so I've continued to try to do it with all my pitches."