Yanks' Mussina reaches 20 wins for 1st time at 39

The Baltimore Sun

Mike Mussina became the oldest pitcher to win 20 games in a season for the first time, reaching the milestone on the final day of the season yesterday as the visiting New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-2, in a day-night doubleheader opener.

The 39-year-old Mussina (20-9), finishing his 18th major league season, allowed three hits in six shutout innings.

"It's been a long time," he said. "I've been close."

Previously, the oldest first-time 20-game winner was Jamie Moyer, who was 38 when he went 20-6 for the Mariners in 2001. Mussina, who hasn't committed to playing next season, could be the first pitcher to retire after a 20-win season since Sandy Koufax.

"I really don't know," Mussina said when asked whether that was his final game. "If it is, it's kind of a nice way to go."

Mussina won his final three starts, allowing one run over 16 innings. His previous high for wins came in 1995 and 1996, when he won 19 games each year for the Orioles. Mussina went 0-2 in his final four starts in 1996, leaving his final one with a 2-1 lead after eight innings only to watch Armando Benitez allow a tying homer in the ninth.

Mets:: Even though New York missed the playoffs, it appears Jerry Manuel will return as manager. After yesterday's loss to Florida knocked the Mets out of postseason contention, a person familiar with management discussions told the Associated Press there's a very good chance Manuel will be brought back next season. He was promoted from bench coach to interim manager when Willie Randolph was fired June 17, and he led the Mets back into contention.

Red Sox: : Josh Beckett's first start in the first-round playoff series against the Angels was pushed back to Game 3 after he hurt his side throwing a bullpen session. Jon Lester will pitch the opener Wednesday, followed by Daisuke Matsuzaka on Friday.

Phillies:: Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09 ERA) will pitch Game 1 of the Division Series when the National League East champions open Wednesday at home against the Brewers.

Dodgers: : Left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo will not pitch in the NL Division Series as a precaution because of a possible condition with his circulation. Kuo warmed up in the bullpen Saturday night at San Francisco but said he couldn't feel his fingers and didn't enter the game. Later, he threw in the indoor cage, and his skin became red. Kuo (5-3, 2.14 ERA) went a hospital to check how his blood was circulating. Tests revealed normal blood flow.

Nationals:: Last-place Washington fired five coaches, an overhaul of manager Manny Acta's staff going into 2009. Bench coach Pat Corrales, base coaches Tim Tolman and Jerry Morales, bullpen coach Rick Aponte and hitting coach Lenny Harris are gone. Only pitching coach Randy St. Claire kept his job.

Tigers: : Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Jeff Jones were fired.

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