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Two nights ago the Yankees bullpen was simply awful. Chan Ho Park and his teammates allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks in just 2.2 innings, blew a two-run lead and the game. Last night the combination of Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera shut down the Red Sox and led the Yankees to victory, 6-4 over the Sox.

Aceves threw two perfect innings on his way to the win. Marte retired the only batter he needed to, David Ortiz. Joba threw the ball better than he has in a long time. And Mo was Mo.

Joba was the biggest story tonight for the Yanks, especially after that shaky performance on Sunday. For this one night, he look a lot like the Joba of old. Maybe he wasn’t throwing as hard, but he was just as dominating. With the tying run on second base and one out in a noisy Fenway Park, Joba came in to strike out Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew on nine pitches. Behind 2-1 in the count, Joba got Drew to swing and miss on back-to-back sliders to end the inning. Joba then threw in one of his fist pumps.

A.J. Burnett lasted just five innings. He made two major mistakes in the game, both to Victor Martinez. The first coming with the score tied in the 3rd when Martinez launched a two-run homer. Then, with the score now tied at three in the 5th, Martinez struck again with an RBI double. In five innings Burnett allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits and a walk, and struck out 5.

Jon Lester was no better for Boston, although early on it looked like he would be. In 5 innings he allowed 4 runs on 5 hits, walked 3, and struck out 4.

Nick Swisher got the Yankees on the board with an RBI double. He’s now 3-for-7 on the young season and has looked very good.

Lester would hold the Yankees off the board for the next two innings and by the fifth they were finally able to break through. Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter started the inning with back-to-back singles. Lester then loaded the bases for Mark Teixeira by hitting Nick Johnson with a pitch. Tex didn’t do much damage, but he hustled his way out of a DP and drove in the Yankees second run. Alex Rodriguez tied the game win a line drive RBI double into the left field corner. Robinson Cano then gave the Yankees the lead with a sac fly, and Cano had a solo homer in the ninth to give the Yankees an insurance run.

It took the Yankees four months to get their first win against the Sox last year. This year it took them only two days. Tonight they should go for their second victory over the Sox. Tonight should be another battle with Andy Pettitte facing former Angel, John Lackey as he makes his Boston debut. Game time is 7:10 p.m. and you can catch the game on YES and ESPN2.

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Even with their “B” team, the Yankees were still able to easily defeat the Royals 8-2.

Chad Gaudin started and picked up his sixth win of the season. In 6.2 innings pitched he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 2, and struck out 5.

Ramiro Pena hit his first career homer, which was greeted by the silent treatment in the dugout, then a flurry of back slaps and high fives came afterwards. He got the WWE championship belt also. He also drove in a second run later in the game with an RBI single in the seventh.

The big blow of the game came off the bat of Robinson Cano, a grand slam in the seventh to blow the game wide open and give the Yanks an 8-2 lead. With his RISP struggles this year, it was great to see. It was Cano’s 25th homer of the season. He also doubled in the game, his 48th of the year.

Erick Hinske and Shelley Duncan also had RBI singles.

The bullpen did a good job tonight. Damaso Marte retired the only batter he faced, and Alfredo Aceves threw two perfect innings.

It was the Yankees 101st win of the season, three more wins would give them the most they’ve had since 1998. Here’s an interesting fact I didn’t know until reading other bloggers and checking it online myself: Besides that 1998 season they’ve only won more than 103 games in the last 46 years, and that was in 1964.

Boston lost again, 11-5 to the Blue Jays. Sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to throw away the Wild Card?

The opener of that big four-game set between the Tigers and Twins was rained out. They will play a day-night doubleheader today.

Andy Pettitte pitched a big game tonight for the Yankees. He went 7.1 innings, allowing only one run and fannung 7 batters. His final line was 7.1IP 6H 1R 1ER 2BB 8K. With Pettitte’s up-down season, it was a good way for him to start the second half. Phil Coke pitched an inning of scoreless ball in relief. Alfredo Aceves picked up the last two outs of the 9th inning, and picked up the win. He now has a record of 6-1 on the season.

The offense didn’t produce much last night. The only run they scored before the 9th inning was a solo HR by Eric Hinske. Hinske has gone 5-for-15 since joining the Yankees with 4 HR’s and 5 RBI’s.

The real story of the night was Hideki Matsui’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th inning. For that, he earned a pie in the face from A.J. Burnett.

The Red Sox lost again tonight to the Texas Rangers, which means both New York and Boston tie for first place in the AL East. The Yankees have now won 4 in a row since the All-Star Game. Last year they went on a tear, winning 8 straight. Perhaps this can happen again?

1. CC Sabathia

2. AJ Burnett

3. Andy Pettitte

4. Joba Chamberlain

5. ???????

The Yankees need a solid guy to fill in the fifth spot in their rotation.  Chien-Ming Wang, in my opinion, has proved he will not have it anymore – at least for the remainder of this season.  It will be sad if he no longer has it forever.

Regardless.  What to do, what to do?  Fortunately, the Yankees do have several options.

1.) Al(fredo) Aceves – Currently in the bullpen – Aceves got the emergency start on July 9 and he has been a great pitcher out of the bullpen this season, but I honestly don’t like him in the rotation.  I think he fills a great role by being able to go 2-3 innings in relief.

2.) Sergio Mitre – Currently in the rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – Read what Greg Cohen at Sliding Into Home has to say about Mitre:

In Scranton this year he has an ERA of 2.40 in 45 innings pitched. His FIP is a bit higher but 3.04 is still dominant. He’s an extreme GB pitcher, however, his K/BB in AAA this year is up to 7.00. Mitre is red hot right now and just won the International League Pitcher of the Week award….I think the obvious choice is Mitre. He’s been as dominant as you can be and they lose nothing by calling him up. Besides this he should be in his peak years at age 28 and has ML experience.

3.) Kei Igawa – Currently in Rotation at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre – I know someone out there is going tho think I am off my rocker to even consider this guy.  Igawa’s last start for the Yankees came on May 9, 2008 against the Detroit Tigers.  Igawa lasted only 3 innings, allowing 11 hits and 6 earned runs with no strikeouts.  His best-ever “start” came on April 28, 2007 against Boston when he entered the game in the first for an injured Jeff Karstens and pitched 6 innings, holding the Red Sox scoreless.  He is 3-3 in his career in the ML and boasts a 13.50 ERA.

But here’s the deal.  Igawa is way too much of an investment to clog up the development at the Triple-A level.  The Yankees paid $50 million to his Japanese club just for the right to negotiate with him – and I think he earns around $11 Million a year, but don’t quote me on that.  He had a solid spring training and has a 7-3 record with Scranton this season.  He should get one more shot to start a few more games, whether it is now or later in the season.

4.) Roy Halladay – Currently player for Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays had announced that they would listen to trade offers for Halladay, the pitcher who has led the AL in wins since 2002 and is by far the best pitcher in the AL this season – earning him the start in Tuesday’s All-Star game.  However, Peter Abraham reported that the Blue Jays will not let anyone negotiate a contract extension with Halladay before trading for him – which means a team would have to give up a whole lot just to get the guy for 1 1/2 years with no guarantee he’ll stick around afterwards.  Not a good move.

5.) My favorite always has been and still is, Phil Hughes.  Phil Franchise was reliable and dominating in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and was one signing away from being the Yankees fifth starter to begin the season.  If Andy Pettitte had not come to his senses and asked for less then $10 million (the Yankees ended up signing him for $5 Million + incentives), Hughes would have received the nod.

In seven starts earlier this season, Hughes was 3-2 with an ERA around 6.00.  I’ll agree, it wasn’t awesome, but you cannot say it was horrible either.  In two of those games, Hughes threw a 2 hit shutout against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers and a 3 hit, no runs allowed outing against the Texas Rangers, who were leading the AL West at that time.  He has been in the bullpen since then, and has been spectacular, allowing 2 runs in 18 1/3 innings, with 19 K’s.

Like all young pitchers, he needs some refining and most of all, experience.  But, at age 23, Hughes is the future of this rotation.  Put Igwawa in the bullpen to fill Hughes’ empty spot and give Hughes the shot he deserves.

Mark Teixeira’s career-long homer drought is finally over. After connecting on the first pitch of the fifth inning on his 21st home run, Tex helped the Yankees sweep the Twins with a 6-4 victory.

Mariano Rivera picked up his 23rd save for the Bombers, who have won eight straight on the road, the first such streak since 1998. We all know what happened in 1998 and while the Yankees are not going to win 114 games, they are 6 games better than last year.

Alfredo Aceves started in place of the injured Chien-Ming Wang. Aceves gave up four runs on four hits in 3.1 innings.

David Robertson’s two walks were the only hiccups for the sterling New York bullpen. The relievers combined to allow two hits and no runs over the final 5 2/3 innings. Jonathan Albaladejo pitched 1.2 hitless innings for the win.

Derek Jeter hit an RBI single in the second inning to make it 3-0.

The Yankees gave two runs back in the second on errant throws. Aceves threw a ball away on a pickoff attempt at first base and Ransom had a throwing error at third base as the Twins cut the deficit to 3-2.

Ransom and Brett Gardner had RBI singles in the fourth, and Robertson steeled himself after the two run-scoring walks. He got Joe Mauer to ground out with the bases loaded to end the inning and keep the Yankees in the lead, 5-4.

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