The Bronx Bombers scored five runs in the first inning and managed the lead wonderfully as the New York Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 8-3. Phil Hughes earned his 17th win of the 2010 season, good for second best on the team. Heck, even Joba Chamberlain earned a save, coming in to shut down the Rays with the bases loaded in the eighth. With the win over the Rays, the Yankees now have a 2.5 game lead in the AL East and the Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is 3.

Nick Swisher hit a solo home run in the Yankees five run first inning - Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Initial Reaction:

Phil Hughes pitched sloppy (five walks, 59.3% of his pitches were balls), but he managed to limit damage by having a high strike out total (six). He has yet to master the luxury of pitching with the lead, because what you want to get is groundouts and not walks, but the offense again bailed him out. Besides the control issues, Phil did limit a very potent offense to three runs on four hits in 6.1 innings of work.

Positives From The Game:

The Big First: Here’s some math for our readers: 3 Singles + 1 Walk + 1 Double + 1 Home Run = ? If you answered five runs off “Big Game” James Shields in the first inning, you’d be correct. This obviously gave the Yankees a distinct advantage for the rest of the game.

Back and Better than Ever: I don’t care what anyone else says – I want a healthy Nick Swisher in the 2-hole. Granderson doesn’t have the OBP and Jeter is a better fit for the leadoff role.  Swish went 2-5 and hit the aforementioned home run in the first inning.

Finally Putting Some More Up on the Board: Robinson Cano blooped a ball into left just in front of the speedy Carl Crawford to score Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the seventh. Robby’s double put the Yankees up by four runs with two frames to play.

Heating Up: With two hits tonight, Derek Jeter now has a multi-hit game in four of his last seven games. His second hit was an RBI double to put the lead at 8-3.

Negatives From The Game:

Get the Early KO!: The offense took a collective nap from the second through fifth innings of the game. During that stretch, no Yankees made it as far as second base. If you want to knock out a starter, allowing him to stay in for an extra four innings can allow an opposing team to get back in the game.

Interesting Facts:

For the seventh time in their storied history, the Yankees have at least five players with 20 home runs. The last time since this year? Last year, goofy.

“Big Game” James Shields has given up at least seven hits in his last six starts. I love making fun of people with ridiculous, not earned nicknames.

Every Yankee recorded at least one hit with the exception of Mark Teixeira, who reached twice on a walk and a fielder’s choice.

What’s Next?:

The Yankees will look to keep their Magic Number going in the right direction again tomorrow with a 7:05 match up with the Rays. The game can be seen locally on the YES Network and nationally on ESPN. If you’re watching on ESPN, find your mute button ASAP as Rick Sutcliffe will most likely be “analyzing” the game.

Projected Starters:

Wade Davis (12-9, 4.19 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (10-13, 5.08 ERA)