August 9, 2009 – 11:34 pm

Sweep!NYY 5, Boston 2. Wow, yet another great pitchers’ duel, at least for 7 innings. John Lester was at the top of his game, but Andy Pettitte was more than his equal, putting in his best start of the year — 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K. Pettitte just keeps putting in one solid start after another. And then when Phil Coke blew the shutout streak and appeared to have blown the win as well — the Yankee offense teed off on the vaunted Boston bullpen with back-to-back homers from Damon and Teixeira and then a 2-run single from Swisher. This team is quickly turning in to one of the best teams the Yankees have had in a long, long time. All of a sudden a somewhat tenuous 2.5 game lead in the East is now a very commanding 6.5 game lead. And this sweep leaves Boston reeling, and in a real fight with Texas and Tampa Bay just to make the playoffs at all. Of course there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played — and the Yankees could easily fall back in to the funk they were in at Chicago and lose 4 or 5 in a row while Boston could just as easily go on a 4-5 game winning streak, and we’d be right back to a heated race. But the way the Yankees are playing right now, that just doesn’t seem possible. This is a team that is hitting on pretty much all cylinders, with the pitching picking up the hitting when the offense goes sour, and vice versa. This is fun.

Boston MassacreNow if there can possibly be a downside to a game like this, it would be why wasn’t Phil Hughes brought in to pitch the 8th? With an opportunity to not only sweep the Red Sox with three straight shutouts — what a dagger in the heart that would be — and with Hughes having only faced all of two batters in the last three days, you would think this was certainly Hughes’ inning. But instead we got Phil Coke, who’s been anything but consistent of late. The only logical explanation is that Hughes is on some kind of innings limit or other type of limitation like Chamberlain had last year. And if that indeed is the case, you have to wonder just what kind of problems might arise down the road if the Yankees do end up in a tight pennant race, and then in the playoffs. There were rumors a couple of weeks ago that Joba also had some strict innings limits this year. So if all these limitations are indeed in place, things could get rather dicey towards the end of the season and in to the playoffs, if both Chamberlain and Hughes are not going to be readily available. Tonight was somewhat of a luxury with already having won the first three games of the series, along with a 5.5 game lead in the East — so bringing in Coke wasn’t all that big of a deal. But on down the line this same type situation is going to arise when you really must have Hughes to set up the 9th for Rivera. So maybe the long-term strategy is to save Hughes for now so that he will still have innings available at the end of the season and in the playoffs? Maybe that’s it? Surely Girardi and Cashman have this under control, right?

Photos: Yahoo! Sports

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