NEW YORK (AP) -
entered this season almost an afterthought in the Yankees' rotation, the old man on a staff of budding stars. What a difference
four months makes.
Mussina walked off the Yankee Stadium mound Wednesday to rousing ''Mooose!'' calls from the sold-out crowd, having thrown
eight economical innings in New York's 5-1 win over the
for their 10th straight home victory.
Last year ''I physically couldn't do what I wanted to do. The whole year was miserable,'' Mussina said after giving up six
hits without allowing a run.
''Today was probably a good day,'' he said with a smirk.
each had two-run doubles and
had a sacrifice fly and 11 putouts and three assists at first base as the Yankees completed a 6-0, post-break homestand with
sweeps of Oakland and the Twins.
''It starts with starting pitching, defense and timely hitting, and we're getting all those now,'' Rodriguez said.
The Yankees will try to continue the stellar play on the road, taking their mediocre 23-23 road record into Fenway Park in
Boston for three games starting Friday.
The Twins did not get a runner past second base against Mussina (13-6) in losing their fourth straight game and dropping 2
1/2 games back of the
in the AL Central.
''It was a disappointing ballgame. I don't know how to describe it,'' Twins manager
said. ''Our trip here was not very good. We played terrible baseball pretty much all the way through it.''
The 39-year-old Mussina retired 14 of the first 17 batters and, for the third straight start, didn't walk a batter. He has
given up just five runs in his past five starts and now has 263 career wins.
It's quite a turnaround from last season, when he was 11-10 with a career-high 5.15 ERA. He was overshadowed by the young
during spring training.
But while they went a combined 0-7 for the Yankees before going down with injuries, Mussina has emerged as the team's most
''You could really make a good case, without Moose I don't know where we would be,'' Yankees manager
gave up three hits, including
's RBI single in the ninth, before giving way to
. The closer struck out pinch-hitter
with runners on second and third for his 25th save.
The 10-game winning streak at home is the Yankees' longest since Sept. 9, 1998, to April 14, 1999. The last time New York
won 10 in a row at Yankee Stadium in a single season was July 26-Aug. 14, 1998.
''We did a real nice job during this homestand,'' Girardi said. ''It's been a real nice stretch for us.''
A big part of New York's recent success is the re-emergence of
, who went 2-for-4 and was in the middle of yet another Yankees scoring opportunity.
Hitting .560 since working on his swing with his father in the Dominican Republic during the All-Star break, Cano singled
in the fifth and scored on Christian's two-run double down the left-field line to give New York a 2-0 lead.
Christian got a turn to bat in the inning because Twins second baseman
lost track of the outs, and instead of trying to turn two with the slow-footed
running to first he just got the force.
''Lexi made a mistake but that just cannot happen,'' Gardenhire said. ''That's as routine a double play as can happen. You
just throw the ball. Who was running?''
(7-3) was coming off throwing six shutout innings against the powerful
and had won five straight decisions. He last loss on May 30, against the Yankees.
Perkins, who is considered one of the main reasons why
's agent has asked the union to investigate why his client has not been called up despite dominating Triple-A hitters for
the past six weeks, gave up a season-high five runs on eight hits and a walk.
He gave up a double off the left-center wall to Rodriguez in the sixth that scored
, who ran through third base coach
's stop sign, and slid in just ahead of the relay that catcher
could not handle.
Rodriguez advanced on the throw and Sexson followed with his sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
It was his defense that earned Sexson the most praise. He made several tough plays.
''Obviously when you're 6-foot-12, you're going to get a lot of balls,'' Mussina said.
But Sexson returned the compliment, saying Mussina's pinpoint control is the reason he played so well.
''It makes it easy to play defense when you see the catcher set up and he's hitting his spots,'' Sexson said.
Notes: There are 26 home games remaining at Yankee Stadium. The Twins are 3-19 in the Bronx since the start of the 2002 season.
... Twins All-Star C
was given the day off. ... The Twins have been swept five times this season.