Originally written on Bronx Pinstripes  |  Last updated 7/27/13
The Rays series comes to a close Sunday with Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.33 ERA) taking on Matt Moore (14-3, 3.17 ERA). Hughes was pulled after just 80 pitches on July 23 versus the Rangers, he allowed three runs (all unearned) over 5 2/3 innings in a no decision. He has been quite inconsistent this season but pitched well against the Rays on April 23. Moore picked up his 14th win of the season on Monday when he threw a two hit shutout at Fenway. He has won his last six starts, a feat that can be attributed largely to his pitch efficiency. He is 2-1 in three career starts at Yankee Stadium. The Rays have been hot before. The dramatic finish in 2011, when they swiped the Wild Card from the Red Sox on the last day of season, was about as hot as they’ve ever been. But even that doesn’t come close to the last month. No team in the American League has been on a streak like this since the 2006 Twins, who went on a 21-2 run, propelling them to a postseason berth. The Rays are 21-3 in their past 24 games. They’ve gone from last place in the AL East to first. The Yankees, who rank 21st in offense on the season, started to show signs of improvement in July until they suddenly ran into a string of great pitching. The Yanks have been shut down by the likes of Felix Doubront, Yu Darvish, Matt Garza, Derek Holland and Archer over the past 10 days. Alfonso Soriano hit .254 with 17 homers and 10 steals with the Cubs before joining the Yankees, who are expected to play him in left field and at designated hitter. He’s 0-8 in his first two games in pinstripes, but he’s a welcome addition. He will most likely see time as DH now since Travis Hafner was placed on the 15 day DL Saturday. “When you look at our club, it’s been a struggle this year to score runs,” Joe Girardi said. “We’re looking for run producers and people who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.” Derek Jeter was eligible to return from the 15 day DL on Saturday, but instead played in a simulated game at short-season Class A Staten Island. He took eight at bats, ran the bases and fielded ground balls, and Girardi said if the captain feels OK when he wakes up Sunday morning, the Yankees will activate him from the DL and start him at shortstop. “It’s obviously someone we’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Girardi said. “We had him for one day. We won that game, so hopefully his ratio continues.”   Notes on the game. Phil Hughes is 1-5 in his last seven games. With a struggling bat and sore shoulder, Travis Hafner underwent an MRI exam Saturday that revealed a right rotator cuff strain and forced him to the 15 day DL.   Game kicks off at 1:05 PM (EST) on Yes.
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