(Not a catch. Courtesy of The AP)
After his awful start in Anaheim at the end of May, Phil Hughes rebounded in his next outing to pitch a 1-run complete game against Detroit. Hughes got shelled in his start in Atlanta last week and much as he did in Detroit, Hughes rebounded big time against Cleveland last night at The Stadium, pitching 8 shutout innings and leading the Yankees to their 4th straight win.
- Hughes walked leadoff batter Shin-Soo Choo but quickly retired the next 6 batters he faced in order to get through 2 innings. He was throwing the curveball for strikes and there was even a changeup or 2 in there.
- The offense gave Hughes an early lead with a 3-run bottom of the 2nd against Justin Masterson. With 2 outs and Nick Swisher on 1st, the Yanks put together 4 consecutive singles, 2 of which didn't leave the infield. The big blow was Curtis Granderson's 2-run line drive to left.
- Stuff has never been a problem with Hughes this year. He's shown to be fully recovered from last season's shoulder ailment, and his K rate this season reflects that. Interestingly enough, Hughes didn't record his first K until the top of the 4th last night, an inning in which he had 2 and maintained his 3-0 lead.
- The Yanks plated another run in the 5th after a C-Grand leadoff walk, Robinson Cano single, and Mark Teixeira sac fly. It wasn't a hit with RISP, but it was a manufactured run and didn't come on a HR, so suck it, haters.
- How about a hand for Dewayne Wise, master of the hidden ball trick?! Replay showed that Wise' near-incredible catch into the stands in the top of the 7th wasn't even close to being caught, but Wise fooled the umpire. Give him credit and give the ump scorn.
- Alex Rodriguez got things back to normal offensively with a solo shot in the bottom of the 7th to make it 5-0, just in case anybody was worried that the Yanks weren't going to hit enough HRs.
- Hughes was already over 100 pitches after 7, but Joe sent him back out for the 8th and Hughes had arguably his best inning of the night, retiring the side in order on 10 pitches.
- Chris Stewart plate a 6th run with a sac fly in the 8th and it turned out to be a damn good thing he did because Cory Wade almost gave the game back with a 4-run 9th. His fastball command was not there and it was up to Rafael Soriano to get the 2-pitch save.
- Hughes: 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. How's that for a bounce-back outing? Hughes was masterful last night. He didn't generate as many swings and misses as Kuroda did on Monday night, but like Kuroda he took the very simple and effective approach of throwing strikes, attacking the light-hitting Cleveland lineup, and pitching to contact. He got a lot of weak flyballs and even a few timely groundball double plays when he needed them. This was Phil Hughes the pitcher over Phil Hughes the thrower.
- Stewart: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI. Didn't smack the ball around by any stretch of the imagination, but was right in the middle of a lot of the scoring plays on offense, and called/caught a helluva game for Hughes on defense.
- Raul Ibanez: 0-3, 1 K, 3 LOB. Wow, Raul's BA is down to .239 and his OBP is below .300. Guess he's been slumping worse than I realized. Some more DH time/rest and more Dewayne Wise in the field could help.
- Wade: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER. Yikes, Cory. Very yikes. Way to turn a walk in the park to a near nailbiter.
It could be time to get the brooms back out tonight as Andy Pettitte attempts to close out the series against former rumored Yankee trade target (and thankfully nothing more than that) Ubaldo Jimenez. If Andy can sharpen up his command and follow the plan that Kuroda and Hughes have executed, he should have a good night.