Our New York Yankees head to Boston tonight for a critical -- yes, critical even in June -- series with those annoying Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are in first place in the American League East, but they are 0-5 against Boston. To me, they need to win a couple of these games in Fenway.
The Yankees clearly understand that they have to win some games against the Red Sox.
"We know those five games definitely did not go the way we would like," said Johnny Damon, who has seen this rivalry from both sides. "It's time to win some games against them."
The Yankees are clearly playing better than they were during those early-season matchups.
The Yankees are a Major League-best 20-9 since Rodriguez came back on May 8, three days after Boston whooped it up in the visiting clubhouse of the new Bronx ballpark. New York has not lost consecutive games over that span. ...
"I think we're playing a lot better, and we also have Big Al back, which is really nice," manager Joe Girardi said. "We are a different team. We've found ways to win games. It seemed like earlier we were finding ways to lose games, so this is much different."
Now let's look at some of the other stories making news around the Yankee Universe.
- OK, so I suppose after Phil Hughes' outstanding inning Monday night we will be hearing ridiculous 'leave Hughes in the bullpen' arguments. He was impressive, with his fastball topping out at 96 -- which I don't think we have seen him reach before as a starter. Let's just be happy that -- until he gets another opportunity in the rotation -- we know Hughes can be an asset in the bullpen. Here is what Girardi had to say.
"He threw all of his pitches, he threw a cutter, he threw some curveballs, he mixed in all his pitches," Girardi said. "I think he approached it the right way. He had all his pitches going. ...
"We feel really good about his stuff. He's throwing the ball pretty well for us. I'm not going to be afraid to use him at any time."
- There were five more home runs hit Monday at what the Associated Press calls "baseball's $1.5 billion bandbox." MLB.com has decided to have a little fun with the home runs, posting a daily Yankee Stadium HR Watch, complete with home run totals and video of each home run. 'Kudos' to UmpBump for the find. Speaking of the home runs, this is what Rays Manager Joe Maddon said after Monday's 5-3 loss.
"I just think we didn’t hit enough balls to right-center. There’s a conveyor-belt effect out there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It’s kind of like a jet stream."
- Pete Abe has a really nice Q&A with CC Sabathia. The questions are reader-submitted.
- Mark Feinsand reports that Xavier Nady might rejoin the Yankees next week.
- Mariano Rivera has pitched three days in a row and is probably not available tonight.