The Yankees continued their early-inning heroics against Jeremy Guthrie. They began in the first by scoring a run on a Mark Teixeira RBI double. In the second, the Yanks put up back-to-back-to-back homers by Swisher, Canó, and Melky, giving them a 4-0 lead. An RBI single in the bottom of the 3rd gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead, as Phil Hughes had kept the Orioles in check up until this point.
In the 4th, Hughes ran into a spot of trouble, giving up a 2-run home run to Ty Wigginton, and then surrendered a solo jack to Adam Jones in the 5th. After getting through the 5th, Hughes, at 89 pitches was done. The homers marred an otherwise effective outing, as Hughes allowed 6 hits and just 1 walk in those 5 innings, while striking out a career high 9 batters. Hughes looked to have a little more oomph on the fastball than in his past outings, sitting easily at 92-93, and getting swinging strikes with it. The breaking ball was inconsistent, but he was able to get a few strikeouts with it, though most of them came via the fastball.
Hughes was relieved by Al Aceves, who continued to pitch effectively in relief, striking out 2 in 2 shutout innings. Phil Coke recorded 2 outs in the 8th before allowing a baserunner, and with the tying run coming to the plate, Girardi decided to go to the honorable Judge Mariano Rivera. Rivera defused the threat in the 8th, and after the Yankees racked up 5 runs on the bottom of the 8th, it was somewhat surprising to see Girardi send Mo back out there. Mariano managed to not give up the 8-run lead, surrendering a solo homer to rookie Nolan Reimold, but otherwise shutting the Orioles down.
This was another solid all around effort by a Yankee club that seems to have hit its stride recently. Hughes was not great in what could be his last start before returning to the minors, but he was more effective than he has been since his first start of the season. The bullpen got the job done without much racking of nerves, and the offense once again set the tone by scoring early and giving Hughes a cushion to work with. At 23-17, the Yankees sit just 1 game behind Boston, and 2.5 back of Toronto (who is falling fast).
Tomorrow’s game will pit Joba Chamberlain against Adam Eaton, as the Yankees go for the sweep and 9 in a row.
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