TAMPA, Fla. - Mike Mussina threw five perfect innings, but got overshadowed by a batter that struck out in his lone at-bat in the New York Yankees’ 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Mussina’s outing didn’t get the biggest ovation from the 10,705 fans at Legends Field. That honor went to actor Billy Crystal, who was in the Yankees’ starting lineup as the leadoff batter and designated hitter. New York gave Crystal, the longtime Yankees' fan who turns 60 Friday, the opportunity to play as a reward for his ambassador-like role for baseball.
“It was unbelievable,” Crystal said.
Crystal went down swinging in his only plate appearance in the first against Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm. He waved toward the fans when returning to the dugout.
“Billy got out there, we had some fun,” Mussina said. “The crowd had some fun. You don’t have days like this during the season. The season is all business.”
Johnny Damon, who had sat out the past couple days with a bruised toe, pinch hit for Crystal in the third.
Mussina struck out two during a 64-pitch outing.
“The results were easy,” Mussina said. “I didn’t feel like I had unbelievable stuff. I got the ball where I wanted to most of the time. Before I knew it, it was the sixth inning.”
Maholm gave up one hit in four scoreless innings. He had three strikeouts.
New York closer Mariano Rivera allowed two singles in the sixth, but worked out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play grounder by Nyjer Morgan. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in three innings overall.
Jorge Velandia had a two-run single during the Pirates four-run eighth. Steve Pearce and Doug Mientkiewicz added RBI singles.
Cody Ransom had a solo shot and Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer for New York.
Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui started in left, the first time he has played in the field since undergoing right knee surgery last November. He had been the designated hitter in three games this spring.
“No problems. I felt fine,” Matsui said through a translator. “Definitely playing defense means you’re at 100 percent.”
New York first baseman Jason Giambi missed his second consecutive game due to back stiffness. He is expected to play on Saturday.
“I’m feeling a ton better,” Giambi said.
Notes: Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte, scratched from his start Wednesday because of minor muscle irritation on the outside of his left elbow, played catch and remains on target to make his next scheduled start Monday. He will throw off a bullpen mound Friday. “I don’t foresee any problems,” Pettitte said. ... Damon is scheduled to play in left Friday. “It’s OK,” he said of his toe. “I really didn’t push it today.” ... New York LHP Kei Igawa, scheduled to start Saturday’s spilt-squad game against Tampa Bay, had a bullpen session. He accidentally hit his translator, who was standing in as a batter, with a pitch. ... Pirates RHP Byung-Hyun Kim got the win despite allowing three runs and four hits — including two homers — in one inning.
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