A five run first inning by the New York Yankees in the Bronx Tuesday evening turned out to be enough support for starter Phil Hughes. The bullpen did their job and New York took their second straight game over Tampa Bay and moved closer to clinching a playoff spot with an 8-3 win
Hughes was not at his best but good enough to get his 17th win of the season. With 12 games remaining, two with Tampa Bay, and three with Boston that concludes the Yankees home schedule this week, Hughes could get two or three more starts with an outside chance of winning 20 games
“He seemed to get stronger as the game went on,” said Yankees manager Joe Giardi about Hughes. “I liked what I saw. I like what I saw about Javy and I liked about what I saw about Joba,” continued Girardi referring to Javier Vasquez and Joba Chamberlain who came out of the bullpen and allowed one run.
That run was scored by Tampa in the seventh scored on a single by Carl Crawford off Vasquez. The win enabled the Yankees to reduce their magic number to three for a playoff spot. Still to be determined is whether the post season nod for the Yankees is the Al east crown or wild card.
New York can just about be assured the division crown if they take the next two games in the Bronx against Tampa Bay. They opened a quick 5-0 lead off Rays’ starter and loser James Shields (13-13) who remained winless in September in notching a career high 13th loss.
Nick Swisher had the big hit in the inning, a solo home run to right center field, his 27th on a 1-0 pitch. It was the American League leading 33rd home run surrendered by Shields. All five runs in the first came on five hits but Shields limited the Yankees to four base runners in the rest of his outing of 5.1 innings.
Girardi added, “As far as significance obviously we would like to win our division. Obviously, we want home field advantage in the playoffs.” And to the Yankees, as has been the case, having home field means everything in the postseason.
Right hander A.J, Burnett (10-13) with an ERA of 5.08 opposes (12-9) right hander Wade Davis in game three of the series at the stadium Wednesday evening as the Yankees look to inch closer to another post season.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com