(Always good to see Phil rise to the occasion. Courtesy of The AP)
It's been a pretty black and white season for Phil Hughes in 2012. He's made 26 starts and has 24 decision, 13 of them wins and 11 of them losses. Of course there's some offensive support, bullpen work, and plain old luck that goes with determining what a pitcher's record is, but Hughes' results this year have been indicative of a guy who's either been right on his game or way off of it in most starts, with very few shades of gray in the middle. The Yankees needed Phil to be on last night to help them avoid a series loss to the basement dweller of the AL East and he came up big.
- Hughes walked leadoff hitter Rajai Davis to start the game, but quickly corrected that and looked sharp through the first 3 scoreless innings. He was throwing all 3 pitches again, a good sign that he's continuing to improve his changeup, and mixing them well.
- He got a little run support in the bottom of the 3rd when Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second with 1 out. The scalding hot Nick Swisher singled to drive in Nix and the Yankees led 1-0.
- The Yanks manufactured another run in the 4th when Steve Pearce walked, took second on a wild pitch by Ricky Romero, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a Curtis Granderson sac fly. It wasn't as sexy as Teix hitting doubles and homers, but it got the job done.
- Hughes struck out Adeiny Hechevarria with fastballs in the 3rd inning, and he tried to do the same in the 5th but missed and gave up Hechavarria's first career HR. It was an unforgivable mistake, but the only one Hughes would make on the night.
- There was some trouble in the 6th after Hughes walked the first 2 batters, but a brilliant leaping catch and double play turn by Robinson Cano on a line bailed him out. If your offense is hurting, you better be playing some good D, and the Yankees did last night.
- And the offense was hurting after the 4th inning. They put 2 on in the 5th but didn't score, and then they were retired in order in the final 3 innings.
- The bullpen needed a rest, which Hughes gave them with his 7 strong innings, but Joe pushed for the win by going to the D-Rob/Soriano well for the third straight game. They got the job done, in perfect fashion, to secure the win and likely ensure that we won't see either of them today.
- Hughes: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W. Philthy Phil comes up with a big start in a big situation where his team needed a big start. He threw the changeup consistently again, and broke out some sort of slider/cutter hybrid pitch that he's been working on. Hughes abandoned his cutter a while ago, but if he can make this into a regular offering that he mixes in, it can only make him more effective.
- D-Rob & Sour Puss: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. A day after both looked shaky in the late innings of a losing effort, Joe goes back to them for a third straight time, unusual for him, and they reward him with 2 perfect innings on just 16 pitches.
- Robinson Cano: 0-4, 1 K, 4 LOB. With a lineup this short, the Yankees can't afford to have Cano put up too many lines like this. But it's just one bad game after a string of really good ones.
- Andruw Jones: 0-3, 1 K. Just a big pile of nothing right now. If rosters weren't expanding soon, Jones could very well be at risk of getting DFA'd for another bat.
The Yankees can get their second straight series win with a victory tonight, a small victory to build off of in these trying late-season times. They're sending the right guy to the mound in CC Sabathia, and they'll get another look at J.A. Happ for Toronto.