Things couldn’t be going much better for the high-flying Red Sox. The team with the best record in the majors is getting hot exactly at the right time. On game two of a 13 game stretch of games against AL East competition, they began what has to this point been a 5 game winning streak. This year’s stellar pitching (3.08 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) has finally begun to get some help from the Red Sox hitters. In a dramatic turn of events, the team’s offensive numbers have jumped to .270/.355/.441. Just as important as the tangibles however, is the swagger they’ve acquired in their step.
Also signifigant could be the confidence that the Red Sox may have managed to deflate. Matsuzaka made the long overdue decision to pitch up and in to Alex Rodriguez. Whether the pitch affected Rodriguez is debatable. What isn’t debatable is that A-Rod followed with his worst offensive night of the season. Not only did Alex Rodriguez look foolish, striking out on 3 straight pitches out of the zone but it was one of only two games this season in which Rodriguez didn’t record a single extra base hit. I think it’s safe to say that the Red Sox feel comfortable pitching in on their arch rivals. Adding insult to injury, Matsuzaka hit 2 Yankees batters, without retaliation, in the final game of the sweep. The Red Sox also feel rather comfortable digging in against them. That’s exactly what they were doing when they hit a record tying 4 straight home runs against the Yankees yesterday. Since then, much has been said about Joe Torre and the Yankees refusal to pitch in on Red Sox hitters. Unless the Yankees change that next weekend, the Red Sox hitters will again step into the box with nothing to fear.
It seems as if the Yankees finally realized their mistake in calling up Chase Wright. You had to have a feeling it wouldn’t work out well from the moment the Yankees announced the idea. As I said prior to his first start, if Wright truly is this good then why would they rush him so much? And if he really isn’t this good then it will surely be exposed when he faces major league hitters. In a surprise move, and likely also one of slight desperation, the Yankees have decided to replace him with Phil Hughes. Hughes will start this Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays. It would be ideal to give him more than 3 starts above the AAA level, but the Yankees are in a difficult situation. Hughes has struggled a bit pitching above AA. He really struggled this spring when he pitched 4.2 innings, allowing 6 hits, 4 runs and 6 walks while striking out 2. He got off to a rough start in AAA as well but has since recovered to lower his ERA to 3.94 while striking out 17 over his 16 innings of work.
Those numbers won’t matter for anything however when he takes the mound in his long anticipated major league debut. Many scouts believe that his stuff is major league ready, so the real test for him may be a mental one. The Yankees wisely chose not to pitch him against the Red Sox. Instead they will go with Jeff Karstens next Friday against Daisuke Matsuzaka. In what should be a relatively easy introduction to the majors, Phil Hughes will make his major league debut this Thursday against a slumping Blue Jays lineup missing both Troy Glaus and Reed Johnson. All eyes will be on the young phenom as he opposes Josh Towers. I’ll be sure to provide an update once the start is completed.