This game was decided early. Phil Hughes was inefficient in the early innings, and was lucky to keep the Red Sox to only 2 runs on what seemed like 60 pitches in the opening frames. Jon Lester meanwhile kept the Yankees from recording their first hit until the 5th inning. The Yankee bats came to life a bit after that. The Bombers managed to load the bases twice, once in the 5th and then again in the 8th, but other than Mark Teixeira's solo homer the team never plated a run.
The Yankees squandered a gritty outing from their young right hander. Hughes could not get the Red Sox out in the early innings. For a moment the game seemed like it was destined to be a blow out. But Phil settled down. Only his 114 pitches remained as evidence that he wasn't in control in this one. His final line of 6 innings, 2 runs and 6 hits was solid.
Lester's start was a mirror image of Hughes'. He was unhittable in the early going, only giving the Yankees base runners on the occasional walk. Then he began to labor and left the game in the hands of hard-throwing Daniel Bard after only 6.1 innings and 99 pitches.
The Yankees threatened against Bard. Teixeira hit his homer against him in the 8th, and the Yankees loaded the bases. But they never got the big hit. Bard and Papelbon combined to keep the Yankees from scoring, giving the Red Sox a split of the series.
The Red Sox and their playoff hopes get to live to play another day, but they remain 6 games behind the Yankees and either 3.5 or 4.5 behind the Rays for the wild card, depending upon the outcome of the Rays game against the Tigers tonight (they're up 3-1).
Speaking of the Rays, in addition to losing 5 games in a row, the team is also suffering from its first injuries to its pitching staff. Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are both being sent back to Tampa to have team doctors examine sore shoulders. At a minimum, after having the same five pitchers start their 1st 104 games the Rays will have 2 of their starters sit for a while. At worst, the Rays just lost 40% of their pitching staff.
After playing mostly .500 ball on their home stand, the Yankees take to the road tomorrow against Texas. A.J. Burnett is scheduled to start, but I won't consider him certain after missing his last start until he's on the hump in the bottom of the 1st. The Rangers will counter with C.J. Wilson in what could be a preview of a playoff matchup. Game starts at 8pm.