Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yankees Win, but Hughes Average

The Yankees played spoiler again last night, defeating the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox, 5-1, but starter Phil Hughes was less than spectacular in his return to the major league mound. Hughes labored through 4 innings, throwing 89 pitches, 57 of them for strikes. He did show some grit getting out of a pair of jams relatively unscathed, but did allow six base runners.

Hughes stranded Orlando Cabrera after he led off the game with a double, but wasn't as fortunate in the third inning when Cabrera repeated the feat. Dewayne Wise sacrificed Cabrera to third, and Jermaine Dye brought him home with a ground out to Alex Rodriguez.

An inning later the White Sox put two aboard with one out on a single by A.J. Pierzynski and walk to Ken Griffey Jr.. But Hughes retired Alexei Ramirez on a deep fly to center field and struck out Juan Uribe to get out of the jam.

The Yankees offense faced its worst enemy, a rookie left-hander they had never seen before. Robinson Cano's single was the only home team hit off of Clayton Richard through the first six innings. After stranding two men in the sixth, the Yankees finally broke through in the seventh. A-Rod drew a one out walk and moved to second on Jason Giambi's ground out. Since Richard had easily handled Xavier Nady all night, Ozzie Guillen stuck with him, but Nady made him pay when he lined a hanging breaking pitch to center field for a game tying single.

Cano's third hit of the night, a double into the left field corner, put two men in scoring position and finally knocked Richard from the game. Reliever Mike McDougal came on and wild pitched home the go ahead run before retiring Ivan Rodriguez to end the inning.

The Yankees tacked on three runs in the eighth inning on a Johnny Damon 2-run home run off of Scott Linebrink, and a solo shot by A-Rod. It was A-Rod's 35th home run of the season, making him the first player to hit 35 home runs and drive in 100 runs for the 12th straight season (we won't talk about how the home run itself was meaningless).

After Phil Coke tossed two shutout innings, extending his scoreless streak to 10 innings, Brian Bruney, Joba Chamberlain, and Edwar Ramirez tossed a frame each, with Bruney (3-0) getting the win.

News and Notes

Melky Cabrera made his first start in center field since his recall from Scranton. He went 1-3 with a run scored, but failed to get a bunt down in a crucial situation.

The Yankees clinched the season series with the White Sox, having won 4 of the first 6, with tonight's finale left. They also won the series with the AL East leading Rays. Only the Angels, the West winners, won the season series with the Yankees. They also won the season series with the Central contending Twins, 6-4. They have a chance to win or split the series with the Red Sox too, which they trail 8-7.

The White Sox maintained their 2.5 game lead over the Twins after Minnesota fell to Cleveland, 6-4.

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