It was supposed to be a matchup built for national television.  AJ Burnett vs. Josh Beckett, two hard-throwing, old-school pitchers facing off in Yankee Stadium.

All Yankee fans were salivating just thinking of it: Burnett pumping mid-90s fastballs by Red Sox hitters, lighting up the radar gun, fueling the Yankee Stadium crowd and shutting down the Red Sox.

When AJ is on, he is virtually unhittable.

But, AJ Burnett was scratched before last night’s game due to back spasms, and Dustin Moseley was called upon to step up, originally slated to pitch today at Yankee Stadium (Phil Hughes goes today against John Lester).

Moseley spent most of this season in Scranton/Wilkes Barre, going 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA before he was called up on July 2, 2010.

This young man is the exact opposite of AJ.  His fastball tops out at 90 mph, and he doesn’t possess shut-down stuff.  He relies on control to get outs, much like Greg Maddux.

Were Yankee fans optimistic about the game? Probably not, but the bottom line was that the Red Sox were preparing to face Burnett, not Moseley.  They had to make an adjustment as well.

Questions arose about Moseley.  Could he handle the atmosphere that is Yankees-Red Sox?  Was his stuff good enough?  And, could he keep the Yankees in this game against Beckett?

Facing an enormous challenge, Dustin Moseley stepped up and threw the game of his life.

As an emergency starter, Moseley out-dueled Josh Beckett last night at Yankee Stadium, pitching six and a third innings, allowing two hits, two runs and striking out five while leading the Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

And, like Maddux, he was striking out Marco Scutaro on a Maddux-like two-seam fastball that starts outside the zone and cuts back in the zone.

This was a big game for the Yankees.  They had a chance to gain a game on the Tampa Bay Rays after they lost 1-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays, and they were counting on Moseley to deliver.

And deliver he did.  Dustin Moseley deserves a lot of credit for his performance.

Perhaps the best thing for him was not knowing he was pitching last night.  He did not have time to think about his upcoming start the night before.  He had no time to think, he had to dwell on the Red Sox, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, and the big stage.  He had to focus all of his energies on getting ready to pitch.

He didn’t just give the Yankees a chance to win.  He shut down the Red Sox and offered them no help.  He got it done in a big way.

He wasn’t even supposed to pitch today.  Good thing he did.


Follow Steve Henn on Twitter @steve_henn

Check Out The Experience, Steve Henn’s Yankee Blog

Read more MLB news on