- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: That try as they might, the Yankees and Orioles can't seem to shake one another. The Orioles beat the Rays on another walk-off Thursday afternoon, so naturally the Yankees came back with this tidy 2-0 win tonight to keep pace in the American League East. Another bad RISP night -- 1-for-9 -- was more than offset by an outstanding starting pitching performance.
Phil up: It wasn't Phil Hughes' best outing of the season -- that would be his complete game against the Tigers back in June -- but it certainly was his best in two months and could not have come at a better time for the Yankees. Facing an admittedly weak Boston lineup that was missing Dustin Pedroia (whose wife gave birth to their second son today), Hughes took a shutout into the eighth inning, allowing five hits, walking no one and striking out seven. Hughes killed the Red Sox with changeups in August, but tonight it was all heat; all of his seven K's came on his four-seamer.
Capt. Crawl: As he insisted he would Wednesday night, Derek Jeter played, but he looked far from 100 percent healthy. In his first three at-bats as the designated hitter, Jeter grounded out twice and flied out -- and jog-walked slowly back to the dugout each time, looking as if he was trying very hard not to limp.
Derek, say hey to Willie: Despite playing on one good leg, Jeter reached another milestone tonight, pulling even with Willie Mays for 10th place on baseball's all-time hit list with a seventh-inning single that drove in the Yankees' second run of the game. Once again, Jeter was the only Yankee to come up with a timely hit -- his was the team's first of the night with runners in scoring position.
RISP aversion: When the Yankees loaded the bases with none out in the fourth, the Red Sox had them right where they wanted 'em. Although they got one run home on Andruw Jones' sac fly, that was it as Curtis Granderson lined into an unassisted double play to end the inning. And when they got a one-out double in the fifth from Eduardo Nunez, he could go no further than third after groundouts by Jeter and Nick Swisher.
Grand tour: Granderson had to go what looked like a quarter-mile to run down Scott Podsednik's drive and then brace himself with his hands to stop from running headlong into the iron service gate in the center-field fence at Fenway for a spectacular first-inning putout.
A-Rod scoots past 'Scooter,' ties 'The Horse': When Alex Rodriguez scored the first run of the game on Jones' sacrifice fly, he passed Phil Rizzuto for sole possession of 18th place on the all-time Yankees runs scored list (889) and tied Lou Gehrig for ninth place on MLB's all-time list (1,888).
Record night for Grandy, too: Granderson struck out three times and each time set a Yankees single-season record. Grandy made the mark his own last season with 169, a record he broke with two K's Wednesday night. He now has 173 -- one shy of his personal "best," set in 2006 as a Detroit Tiger.
Spark plug: Inserted at shortstop in place of Jeter, Nunez provided some kick to the lineup with a single and double in four at-bats. He also handled three chances flawlessly in the field.
What's next? A flight home followed by the start of the last big homestand of the year, nine games against the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. CC Sabathia (13-5, 3.56 ERA) kicks off the festivities against the third-place Rays, fresh off their sweep at the hands of the Orioles, and their Cy Young candidate, LHP David Price (17-5, 2.54), on Friday night, first pitch at 7:05 ET.