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Hughes to open series vs. Rays

Hughes to open series vs. Rays

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Take a deep breath, Yankees.

The Red Sox are now the past, a successful series come and gone. The Mariners lurk a weekend away, still the greatest obstacle standing in the way of the American League Wild Card. And in between those two stressors lie the Devil Rays, representing the basement of the Major Leagues.

The Yankees have the potential to dominate the Devil Rays this weekend, beginning with Friday night's series opener. But they also can't look too far ahead -- or too far back -- or risk losing everything they've recently gained. New York has already lost five of its 12 games against Tampa Bay.

"This game doesn't give you a lot of time to recover," said manager Joe Torre. "So you kind of have to leave yesterday there."

That shouldn't be difficult, considering Friday's two starting pitchers -- Phil Hughes and Andy Sonnanstine -- don't have many yesterdays between them. Hughes has a total of seven Major League starts to his credit, while fellow rookie Sonnanstine boasts just 16.

That's where their similarities end. While the 21-year-old Hughes boasts a blazing fastball and sharp offspeed pitches, the 24-year-old Sonnanstine gets by on location and guile. Neither strategy has worked particularly well so far, as both rookies hold August ERAs above six.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Phil Hughes (2-2, 5.35 ERA)
Hughes returns home after two rough outings on the road, in which he allowed five runs each to the Angels and Tigers. Home runs -- three of them, to be exact -- doomed him in the latter of those outings in Detroit, as Hughes took his first loss since his Major League debut in April. Friday will mark his first career start against the Devil Rays.

TB: RHP Andy Sonnanstine (3-9, 6.38 ERA)
Sonnanstine thrives on control, and has never walked more than three batters in an outing. He's turned a corner after losing eight straight earlier this summer, having since won two of his last three. Sonnanstine has once before seen the Yankees, who tagged him for five runs in the midst of that losing streak.

Player to watch
Hideki Matsui has faced Sonnanstine just three times, but already boasts a homer and a double off the young right-hander. Matsui has four multi-hit games over the past 10 days.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MY9

On radio
• WCBS, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, Major League debut) vs. Devil Rays (Edwin Jackson, 4-12, 5.51), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 12-7, 3.70) vs. Devil Rays (Jason Hammel, 1-4, 7.44), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Yankees (Roger Clemens, 6-5, 4.15) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 10-7, 4.08), 1:05 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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