Yankees-Rays Pitching Preview: Phil Hughes Is Fighting For First

It was another nail-biting, extra innings game for the New York Yankees who needed to win and did.

Now, the Bombers are back in first place after losing it for 24 hours to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Only a half-game separates the two ball-clubs making Wednesday night’s outcome a declaration for who ever wins. That is until next week when the Rays come to the Bronx for four games.

Pitching has dictated this series, as the Yankees look to Phil Hughes to keep the Rays bats quiet. Hughes will face Rays James Shields, which is not Sabathia vs. Price but it looks to be a fair fight.

Hughes-Shields Preview:

Phil Hughes innings limit has him coming off a skipped start, but threw a solid inning out of the bullpen in Texas.

It will be Hughes first start since September 5.

Hughes has the stuff, as the first-half of the season proved by earning a trip to the All-Star game.

Hughes’ development is being monitored, but Joe Girardi has no other options. Pettitte has been on the DL for two months; add that to Vazquez and Burnett who remain unreliable.

Otherwise this situation would be different.

In his last 10 starts, Hughes has 5-4 record, with a 4.83 ERA, striking-out 36, walking 17 in just shy of 51 innings.

Hughes has allowed 37 earned runs in his last 10 starts and looks to improve against the heavy Rays lineup. Hughes has to settle down early, locate his pitches and throw his curve-ball confidently for strikes.

Even with the recent decline, Hughes’ excuse is legit. His young arm has never thrown this many innings, as well as his inexperience pitching a full season.

Hughes needs to be extra careful with Rays Carlos Pena who has knocked Hughes around in the past.

The Rays counter with James Shields, who has been even streakier this season.

In his last 10 starts, Shields has a 6-3 record, with an ERA of 5.25, striking out 54, walking 14 over 58 innings pitched. Shields’ allowed 34 earned runs and 74 hits over that time, which is not good.

Like Hughes, Shields has gotten hammered lately. When he is on, Shields can throw for strikes as long as he is locating the ball. In his last two starts he allowed 10 earned runs, three home-runs, striking out seven in total and took a loss on both games.

The Yankees got a taste of what a dominant Shields looks like back on August 1st when he stuck out 11 Yankee batters over seven innings.


This looks to be the highest scoring game of the series, unless both youngsters find their groove with little margin for error.

If Derek Jeter can muster up his old-self again, and Nick Swisher’s wrist is ok to play, than Shields better watch out.

My bold prediction is Yankees win 8-5. Hughes and Shields will get a no decision, both going five innings.


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