Monday, September 2, 2013

Well, it doesn't come much closer than that. The New York Yankees were nine outs away from sweeping the Baltimore Orioles, holding a 3-0 lead entering the 7th inning. A couple of hits took Andy Pettitte out of the game, then a pair of homerun off Shawn Kelley and Joba Chamberlain took the Yanks out of the lead.

Coming from a Yankees bullpen that is usually lights out, it only took one bad inning for the Yankees to go from cruising with a lead through the first six innings, to trailing by four-runs in the final three frames.

The Yanks lost out on a chance to gain another game on the Tampa Bay Rays and move to 2 1/2 games back in the Wild Card standings. Instead, they fell back behind the Orioles and remained 3 1/2 games back. They also fell into a tie with the Cleveland Indians.

Now the Yankees will welcome the Chicago White Sox into the Bronx, whom the Yanks were swept by in three-games in early August. This series can be anything like the first meeting for the Yankees if they want to make the playoffs. Every game matters, and these next three games sure do matter a whole lot.

"You know that you really can't afford too many slip-ups," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You gave to play well and you have to win series but you get to a certain point and you continue to make ground, your destiny is going to be in your own control."

Today's Lineup vs Chicago:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Wells DH
Granderson RF
Reynolds 1B
Romine C
Hughes RHP

Pitching Preview:

The road to the playoffs starts with how the Yankees starting pitching responds to the added pressure. Of all the pitchers that desperately need to turn things around, Phil Hughes is the one. In extreme danger of losing his spot in the rotation, this might be his last chance to prove himself to the Yankees.

"Every time you have one of these outings, I try and look at the positive," Hughes said. "I still have the opportunity to pitch in big games where it really matters, and that's all I can do."

I don't think I need to tell you that Hughes is having an awful season. None of the Yankees other starters has struggled as much as he has. He's lost 11 of 13 decisions since May 15, and his August ERA was a disastrous 6.46.

One of Hughes' biggest problems lately is his lack of ability to pitch past the 5th inning, having gone only 4 2/3 in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays. In all, Hughes hasn't pitched more than five innings in five of his last 10 outings.

Hughes' recent struggles -- coming off giving up four runs in a loss to the Blue Jays last Monday -- the Yankees pushed his original Sunday start against the Orioles back to face the White Sox today in the series opener.

Looking to stop Hughes and the Yankees in his tracks is White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, who will be taking the mound to face the Bombers for the second time this season.

Quintana is coming off his third straight quality start, but also took the no-decision for the second straight outing. He gave up only three runs over 7 2/3 innings, while also striking out eight against the Houston Astros last Tuesday.

For those of you that didn't know, Quintana is a former Bronx Bomber, and he's 2-0 in two starts against the Yankees, while he'll also be making his second career start at Yankee Stadium.


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