So that was hardly ideal tonight, huh? Phil Hughes flashes his stuff for five innings and then becomes undone by an A-Rod error and some shoddy relief pitching. Meanwhile, the Yanks’ bats can’t hit a lick off Orioles pitching.
As far as Hughes’ outing goes, I don’t have much to say. Except for the second inning when he couldn’t find his out-pitch, Hughes kept his pitch count manageable and was getting ahead of hitters. He was throwing his fastball and breaking pitches for strikes, and the Orioles, until the sixth, couldn’t put much of anything together off of him. The third time through the lineup however was decidedly not the charm.
While some commenters in the game thread suggested sending Hughes down to AAA to work out whatever mechanical problems the bunch of pitching coaches on RAB seem to have spotted, I’m firmly in the camp that he has to stay in the Majors. I’m ready to write off Moose after four starts because I know what Mussina brings to the table now that he’s 39 and pitching in the twilight of his career. I’m not ready to write off a 21-year-old with good stuff who’s learning how to get Major League hitters out. Beyond the hit to his confidence, the Yankees wouldn’t be doing themselves any favors by replacing Hughes right now.
Beyond Hughes, LaTroy Hawkins continued to pitch maddeningly inconsistent baseball. If you all want to boo him for that, go right ahead. Had he come in to be the stopper — something that his stuff suggests he isn’t — the Yanks and Hughes emerge in a close game, and maybe the offense wakes up from its slumber.
In that situation with two runners in scoring position and the Yanks in need of an out, Joe Girardi should really turn to a strike out guy. That’s a prime spot for Brian Bruney to blow a few 96-mph fastballs past the next few hitters. Hawkins wasn’t the right man for the job, and the results just backed up my feeling at the time.
Finally, Mr. Giambi’s days should be numbered at first base. He can’t field; he isn’t hitting; and when the ten days are up and the catchers are healthy, Shelley Duncan should get that job until he’s hitting worse than Giambi’s .116/.291/.302. There’s little downside and a lot to be gained from that potential move.
Saturday’s another game. We’ll get ’em next time.
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