Baltimore Orioles: Mike Mussina’s Top Five Starts As An Oriole

5 Oct 1997: Pitcher Mike Mussina of the Baltimore Orioles throws the ball during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles won the game, 3-1.
5 Oct 1997: Pitcher Mike Mussina of the Baltimore Orioles throws the ball during a game against the Seattle Mariners at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles won the game, 3-1. /

Ahead of Mike Mussina’s induction into the Hall of Fame, we take a look back at his most dominant starts as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

After spending 18 seasons carving his way through the American League East as a member of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, Mike Mussina takes his place in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon. Moose gave Orioles and Yankees fans plenty to cheer for over the years and gave fanbases of many of other franchises many reasons to breath a sigh of relief when his playing days came to an end.

In 536 career starts, Mussina compiled a 270-153 record with a career ERA of 3.68. He never won a Cy Young Award, led the league in wins just once (19 in 1995), yet he will still be remembered as not just one of the most dominant pitchers in Baltimore Orioles history, but in all of baseball.

Mussina fared particularly well against a handful of franchises, many from the American League Central division. He went 22-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 33 career starts against the Minnesota Twins, including four shutouts, and recorded five shutouts and a 17-7 record with a 2.91 ERA in 31 starts against the Detroit Tigers. There weren’t many teams who were able to get to Mussina, but many who struggled to ever find success.

Sorted by Baseball Reference’s Game Score, three of Mussina’s top five starts during his time with the Baltimore Orioles came against AL Central opponents. Here’s a look at all five of Mussina’s best starts during his time in the orange and black, in order of lowest game score to highest.

5) August 27, 1995 vs California Angels (Game Score- 88)

In total, Mussina compiled 23 shutouts in his 18 seasons, 15 of them coming with the Orioles. His August 27th start against the Angels was one of his league-leading four shutouts in 1995. Mussina allowed just four hits while walking two and striking out 11 California hitters, a lineup led by Jim Edmonds, Tim Salmon, and Chili Davis at the time. The Orioles sat six games under .500 with a 53-59 record going into this Sunday outing against an Angels team which was 66-47.

Mussina took the mound in the bottom of the first inning with a 1-0 lead in hand, thanks to a solo shot off the bat of Rafael Palmeiro, a lead Moose and the Orioles would not surrender for the rest of the afternoon. The O’s offense piled on 15 total hits in route to their 4-0 win, with every starter in the lineup recording at least one hit. Mussina’s dominant performance ended a 7-3 West Coast road trip and put the Orioles just five games out of the Wild Card spot, despite their less than impressive record.

4) August 4, 1998 vs Detroit Tigers (Game Score- 91)

It took just 2 hours and 30 minutes and 93 pitches from Mussina to toss this particular shutout against the Tigers, one of his five during his career. Detroit entered this contest with a 45-64 record, struggling to end the season on a positive note, and Mussina refused to let up on a Tigers lineup lacking much firepower.

In his 10th win of the year, Mussina allowed just two hits and struck out eight while refusing to allow a single free pass. Of his 93 pitches, 68 were strikes and 20 of them were called strikes as Tigers hitters either took or swung through a strike on 32% of Mussina’s pitches. A home run from Eric Davis and RBIs from Brady Anderson and Jeffrey Hammonds helped Mussina’s cause in the 4-0 win for the Orioles.

3) July 17, 1992 vs Texas Rangers (Game Score- 94)

Nearly 31,000 fans filed into Arlington Stadium on July 17th to watch a pitching matchup featuring Mike Mussina (9-3) and Kevin Brown (14-4). Brown was just coming off a victory in the 1992 All-Star game, but unfortunately for Rangers fans, this Friday night contest would belong to Mike Mussina and the Baltimore Orioles.

Mussina notched his 10th win of the year to push Baltimore’s record to 50-39 while allowing only one hit and one walk in a shutout performance. He needed 117 pitches to finish off the Rangers, striking out 10 along the way. Moose took a perfect game into the fourth inning before allowing his lone walk to Ruben Sierra. The Orioles offense contributed eight runs on eleven hits, allowing the second-year starting pitcher to work comfortably all night long.

2) May 30, 1997 vs Cleveland Indians (Game Score- 95)

In front of nearly 48,000 Orioles fans at Camden Yards, Mike Mussina toed the rubber with a 6-1 record on May 30th against the Indians. He would later walk off the mound with his 7th victory in hand and two outs shy of a perfect game.

Against a high-powered Cleveland offense featuring Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and David Justice, Mussina went the full nine innings, allowing one hit while walking none and striking out 10. The only hit of the game came with one out in the top of the ninth inning, a single into left field off the bat of Sandy Alomar. Mussina would proceed to strike out Brian Giles and Marquis Grissom to finish the shutout and shut the door on a 3-0 victory.

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1) August 1, 2000 vs Minnesota Twins (Game Score- 98)

Mussina’s top start as an Oriole would come at home at Camden Yards in one of his final starts in Birdland. An ordinary Tuesday night in August turned into a memorable one for the 35,000+ fans in attendance as they watched their ace fan 15 Minnesota hitters in a one-hit shutout victory. David Ortiz (I always forget about his time in Minnesota) and Chad Moeller combined for six of those 15 strikeouts.

Mussina was working a perfect game before issuing a two-out walk to outfielder Midre Cummings in the fourth inning. The lone hit for the Twins would not come until the 6th inning, a single off the bat of 1B Ron Coomer.

The Orioles would go on to win the game by a score of 10-0, thanks to two home runs from catcher Brook Fordyce and Albert Belle‘s 20th longball of the season. Brady Anderson, Melvin Mora, and Delino DeShields combined to go 6-11 with four walks and six runs scored.

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We would love to read your fond memories of Mussina and any particular games you remember as a fan! Let us know below!