The New York Yankees sent veteran Andy Pettitte out against the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox tonight in the Bronx looking for an important victory over their division rivals. The Yankees trail Boston by nine games but are only 2.5 games back in the AL Wild Card.
Boston starter Felix Doubront didn’t last long, giving up six earned runs and walking six Yankees in just 3.2 innings. Pettitte delivered a solid start for New York, allowing just three earned runs in six innings while benefiting from eight runs of support from the Yankee offense, but relievers Phil Hughes, Boone Logan, Preston Claiborne and Joba Chamberlain gave up a combined 9 runs in just two innings. The Yankee bullpen needs to pitch better than they did tonight if they expect to still be playing a month from now.
If New York can play well in their own division (and especially against the Red Sox) in September, it isn’t too late for them to secure a spot in October, either as a Wild Card team or even as the division leader. However, Boston and the Tampa Bay Rays have been formidable teams all year long. With so few games remaining, earning a spot in the postseason will be no easy feat for New York, likely requiring some bad luck for the Rays and Red Sox.
Still, Yankee fans shouldn’t throw in the towel just yet. Their 12-8 loss tonight to the visiting Red Sox was tough, but it shows that they are still a playoff-caliber team capable of putting runs on the board against very good teams. Their bullpen meltdown tonight exposes one very weak area that they need to fix if they want to make the playoffs.