(Courtesy of US Presswire)
With a little help from the rest of the scuffling division, the Yankees carried their 4-game, 6-day winning streak to the top of the AL East after CC's gem on Friday night. They came into yesterday's afternoon game looking to take sole possession of that division lead and keep the winning streak going, with Phil Hughes taking the bump to try to get it done. Like Ivan Nova, Hughes struggled in his first start of the season, and with a lot to prove this year he can't afford to have too many duds. After yesterday's performance, he REALLY can't afford to have another dud because he was just awful.
- Hughes was in trouble right off the bat in the top of the 1st, giving up a leadoff double and allowing it to come around to score after a couple of walks.
- That trouble continued in the 2nd when he gave up a solo HR to Ryan Flaherty to make it 2-0 O's, and the damage was only limited by a nice relay throw to nail a runner at the plate for the final out.
- The offense tried to help Hughes out in the bottom of the 2nd, when Travis Hafner led off with his third homer of the year and Francisco Cervelli came home to score on a 2-out Lyle Overbay single to tie the game at 2.
- But Hughes gave it right back in the 3rd, giving up a leadoff HR to Nick Markakis and another run on 2 more hits. Hughes wasn't locating his fastball well on the outside, and the O's were squaring him up every way imaginable.
- Another leadoff HR in the 4th and a follow-up double ended Hughes' day after just 3+ innings. David Phelps came on in relief and did an excellent job keeping the Yankees close, but Hughes' poor outing left them in a hole they were unable to climb out of.
- Vernon Wells hit a solo HR of his own, his third of the young season, to make the game interesting, but the Yanks left 2 on base in the bottom of the 8th to end the final real threat.
- Wells: 2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K. He continues to swing a hot bat in the middle of this lineup, and made a nice defensive play to nail Adam Jones at second trying to stretch a base hit.
- Phelps: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Arguably the best relief performance of his career to date, Phelps was really good in relief of Hughes. He did what Hughes didn't, challenged hitters, threw strikes where he wanted to in the zone, and worked from ahead in the count to set up his offspeed stuff.
- Hughes: 3 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. Phil was just awful yesterday. Awful. He didn't try to pitch inside with his fastball, couldn't hit his spots away, and just wasn't fooling anybody with his stuff or pitch selection. Too many homers, too much solid contact, and a flat-out refusal to change his approach. Maybe Phil's the one Joe should be concerned about skipping more than Nova.
- Kevin Youkilis: 0-5, 1 K, 3 LOB. Tough day for Youkilis. Shake it off and get back out there today.
Rubber game of the series is tonight, with Hiroki Kuroda taking the ball against Wei-Yin Chen. First pitch is scheduled for just after 8 PM EST/7 PM Central and the game is televised nationally on ESPN.