The Yankees face a tough decision with their roster and payroll after this season. That's a strange thing to have to consider. When was the last time they really had to make a tough roster decision based on cost? Someone needs to answer because I really can't remember a time where that happened.
Nick Swisher hit a home run from each side of the plate tonight. He's now just two home runs short of hitting 20 again. Swisher is third on the team in OPS, at least for qualified players. He's a free agent at the end of the season. The team faces some tough roster decisions in the next few years, and Swisher is doing his best to keep himself out of that process. Outfielders like Swisher don't grow on trees. Outfielders unlike Swisher don't grow on trees. I'm not really sure where this is going, but it would be pretty cool if they found a way to bring Swisher back for another couple seasons.
Swisher's two home runs accounted for two runs, so there are four other runs out there somewhere unaccounted for. Until now. The Yankees got out to an early lead with home runs from Swisher in the first and back-to-back shots from Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin. Granderson hit his from the left side and Martin hit his from the right side. Swisher hit from both sides. Maybe that's where I was going with that other stuff.
If you read the headline it should be clear three runs wasn't enough to win this game. That's Phil Hughes' fault. The box score doesn't indicate as much, but it was Hughes' fault. He got what needed after a leadoff single in the third; a ground ball to start the double play. The ball didn't roll to a real fielder, though. It rolled to Hughes who threw a backwards ceremonial first pitch a mile wide of second. Four batters, an RBI ground out and a couple dozen pitches later, Dustin Pedroia hit a three-run homer to give the Sox a 4-3 lead. Zero earned runs but four earned runs.
Two more runs to account for. Derek Jeter tied the game in the fifth with his tenth homer of the season. His tenth makes him the tenth player with ten homers. Symmetry. Boston brought in Clayton Mortensen, who it appears was never taught a pitch other than a slider, to face Jayson Nix after a couple singles. The YES booth called it "excellent hitting." I call it an awful wave at a pitch you've seen ten times and know he's going to throw that happened to flare into no-mans land, but it still counts. It won't always result in an RBI, but sometimes it will. Tonight it did, so I guess that's excellent hitting. Or lowered expectations, whatever.
Hughes settled down after the third and managed to finish seven innings. The combination of David Robertson and Rafael Soriano held the Sox in check for another two to seal the win. Kind of a strange night for Hughes. He didn't pitch horribly, but gave up four runs. None of them were earned but he certainly earned them. That could have set off an implosion but he held it together to give most of the pen another day off. Based on precedent, I guess we can call that excellent pitching.
Play of the Game: Pedroia's three-run homer in the third (-27.6%). The Yankees end of things goes to Jayson Nix's flare single to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead (+15.5).
David Phelps gets the call tomorrow afternoon against Jon Lester. David Phelps.