It took a four-game winning streak, some terrible Oakland pitching, and a Jorge Posada triple (!), but after eight days spent tied with Tampa Bay atop the American League East — the longest two teams had ever been tied for first this late in the season — the Yankees are in first place by themselves again.
As he so often does, Phil Hughes got plenty of run support in this one, pitching to a 3-0 lead after one that became a 9-2 lead by the time he left the game after five innings. Nick Swisher homered, and so did Curtis Granderson, and so did Mark Teixeira, and just to repeat, because we don’t get to write this very often, Jorge Posada tripled. Anything is possible, folks.
Hughes allowed just two runs, but again he made Joe Girardi’s job easy: Thanks largely to five walks, he threw 98 pitches but just five innings, keeping his innings number, if not his actual workload, down. It’s the second straight game in which Hughes has walked five batters. (For what it’s worth, he says it’s a mechanical issue, not a fatigue issue.)
The four-game winning streak to close out the month means the Yankees finished August — a month that seemed like it would never end — with a 16-13 record. The critical month of September begins tonight, with (gulp) A.J. Burnett getting the ball.