soft hands.

Last season, Mussina struck out 10 Red Sox in Game 4 of the A.L.C.S. at Fenway Park. But he lost, 3-2, and his rational side gave in to the result. Mussina stewed in the training room, letting the team bus leave without him.

He walked back to the team hotel with Borzello, replaying excruciating details. "He was just beyond dealing with it," Borzello said.

Three games later, Mussina saved the season. Pitching from the bullpen for the first time in his career, Mussina relieved Clemens in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, escaping a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth and working two more scoreless innings.

The Yankees' comeback redeemed Mussina, who beamed in the wild postgame celebration. It was the first time, Borzello said, that he had seen Mussina smile that way.

Several Yankees called it the greatest victory of the era, the most satisfying and thrilling. Borzello encouraged Mussina to take it all in, assuring him that not even a World Series championship would compare.

After the flurry of Champagne and shaving cream, souvenir caps and TV lights, the players and coaches scattered. Mussina sat with Borzello by a corner locker, frozen for an hour, savoring the moment until 2:30 a.m. He was the last player to leave the clubhouse.
[ny times]


7:36 AM :: ::
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