("Am I wrong, Dude? Am I wrong?" Courtesy of Getty Images)
Phil Hughes has been all or nothing this season. 8 starts, 4 of them excellent and 4 of them atrocious. He talked about needing to command his fastball better and have better mechanics before last night's start, and somehow it always seems like it comes back to one of those things when Phil starts to run astray. It's why he's never reached what was once thought to be ace potential and it's why he might not be back in pinstripes after this year. He took his first stab at correcting his issues last night in Baltimore, and did a pretty good job of it. It just wasn't enough to get a win in another close, low-scoring affair.
- Brett Gardner got things off to a great start against Miguel Gonzalez, doubling to lead off the game and scoring on a 2-out RBI single by Travis Hafner. That's how that should work.
- Hughes was fastball-heavy in the 1st inning and in the 3rd when he gave up a solo HR to former Yankee C-Dick. Other than that, he was pretty effective through 4 innings, allowing only that run and showing a willingness to throw offspeed early in the count.
- Hafner and The D both put on repeat performances of their efforts, Hafner with another ribbie single in the 4th and Dickerson with another solo HR to lead off the 5th, and the game was tied at 2.
- Strong finish for Hughes after the second Dickerson homer, working around a walk and an error to escape the 5th without former damage and retiring the 6th in order. Hughes struck out 3 of the final 5 batters he faced.
- You want a definition of "dirty"? How about David Robertson striking out the 3-4-5 hitters in the Baltimore lineup in order, all swinging on curveballs, on 15 pitches? Of the 10 strikes he threw, 8 of them were swinging and 7 of those 8 were the hook. That's dirty.
- Just like last night, the extra innings were singular. After Preston Clairborne worked a scoreless 9th, Joe went to Vidal Nuno to start the inning against Nate McLouth. McLouth hit the third pitch he saw for the game-winning walk-off HR. Sucks.
- Hafner: 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 K. Drove in the team's only 2 runs and was the only player in the lineup with multiple hits.
- D-Rob: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K. That was one of the innings that makes you think D-Rob could be a really great closer. When he's on like that with his curveball, there isn't a hitter in baseball who can do anything with him.
- Nix: 0-4, 1 K, 1 LOB. Did nothing at the plate and made his 3rd error of the season in the field on a botched catch. So sad.
- Cano: 0-4, 1 K, 1 LOB. It isn't getting as much attention as it should because he keeps popping HRs when he does hit, but Cano has been in a pretty bad slump for about 2 weeks now.
Rubber match of the series is tonight and it's got a pretty good pitching matchup on paper in Hiroki Kuroda vs. Jason Hammel.