The Yankees won 9-5 on Sunday, completing the sweep of the sad Houston Astros this weekend and pulling into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for both first place in the AL East and the best record in baseball.
The Yankees appeared to be on their way to another rout on the strength of Jorge Posada's second grand slam in two days, although Phil Hughes came slightly unraveled in the bottom of the sixth after cruising through the first 5 2/3 innings. Only needing one out to secure another quality start, Hughes gave up three straight hits (including a two-run blast to Kevin Cash of all people) that led to four Houston runs scoring in the span of maybe 90 seconds. All of a sudden a comfortable 7-1 lead was a bit tighter at 7-5, although it still seemed unlikely that Houston would be able to continue to claw back.
Fortunately the Yanks got two of those runs back and the bullpen shut the door, receiving scoreless frames from Chan Ho Park, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera. Hughes' final line of 5 2/3, 7 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts was less than ideal, and those sixth-inning shenanigans brought his season ERA above 3.00 for the first time since right after his first start of the season. Still, no one's complaining about a 3.11 ERA on the year.
It was great to see the Yankee offense continue to rake even without Alex Rodriguez in the lineup. Even callup Chad Huffman got in on the action, collecting his first big league hit and walking. In fact, Houston pitching yielded 10(!) walks to the Yankees yesterday; not something you typically want to do against the best offense in the league.
After a soothing 16-game stretch in which the Yankees went 12-4 against inferior competition, they now get six games against two National League heavyweights. Though much has been made of the Phillies' recent offensive struggles, I have no doubt that they will come ready to hit at Yankee Stadium this week. Additionally, the Yankees get to face old nemesis Roy Halladay on Tuesday, which, yikes.
The team then hosts the suddenly resurgent Mets for three this weekend. A month ago I would've been licking my chops at that prospect, but the Mets have really pulled it together since taking two of three from the Yanks, going 13-5 over their last 18 games. The Yankees have gone 14-5 in that same stretch. Should be a good series. As usual, we'll have previews up both tomorrow and Friday morning.
Photo courtesy of MLB.com