August 4, 1991. (In hindsight, it would've had much more significance if I had thought to post this two days ago, but life is rarely so tidy.) It was the only game in his abbreviated rookie season in which Moose faced the White Sox on the road, and it was quite a first act for a great career. Just one year after the O's drafted him out of Stanford University with their first-round pick (20th overall), the righthander found himself in the bigs to stay. He was promoted to the major leagues after posting a 10-4 record and a 2.87 ERA with the Rochester Red Wings, and he pushed past some early jitters. Three Chicago batters drew walks in the first two innings, but none of them scored. Likewise, Frank Thomas was stranded at second after a fourth-inning double that set the stage for many future meetings between the two players.
Though Mussina was proving difficult for the Pale Hose to solve, the Oriole batters had no more luck with ancient knuckleballer Charlie Hough. So the contest remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth, when Thomas again got the best of the young pitcher with a solo home run. As it turned out, that was the only run of the game. Mike was pulled after giving up a two-out double to (who else?) Thomas in the eighth, leaving his line at 7.2 innings pitched, 4 hits (3 by the Big Hurt), an earned run, 4 walks, and a single strikeout. All of that work for a hard-luck loss. The 43-year-old Hough went the distance, permitting 5 hits (all singles) and 2 walks and striking out 7 Baltimore batters. The Birds' 3-4-5 hitters (Cal Ripken, Jr., Dwight Evans, and Chito Martinez) went 0-for-11 with a walk by Evans. Though Mussina was denied a win in his debut, he would retire in 2008 with 270 W's to his credit.