Phil Hughes has yet another chance to make a big impression with Yankees fans. He already ingratiated himself with the fanbase on April 28, shutting out the Tigers and breaking a four-game losing streak. Staff ace CC Sabathia snapped a five-game skid last night, and tonight Hughes could continue the turnaround. If successful he’d hand the ball to Joba Chamberlain in hopes to start a winning streak. Nothing could remove the sting of the current losing streak quite like a triplet of wins from the $161 million man, followed by the two home grown phenoms.
Last time out Hughes wasn’t that great, as he allowed seven hits, four walks, and four runs, three earned, through just four innings. That it came against the Red Sox made matters worse. The start was marked by some command issues, but that can be expected from a young starter. He still flashed his stuff, though, maintaining the fastball velocity and curveball break we saw in Detroit.
Tonight marks Hughes’s fourth start against the Orioles since his debut in April 2007. He hasn’t fared particularly well, allowing 10 runs, nine earned, over 16 innings. He’s also walked six in that span while allowing 21 hits. That he has struck out only eight, just 4.50 per nine. Thankfully, Hughes looks like a different pitcher than he was at this point last year, so the results could be markedly different than they were last time, when he allowed five runs in 5.1 innings, striking out just one.
Adam Eaton has had limited exposure to the AL during his career, having pitched for Texas one year between stints with San Diego and Philadelphia. He’s made two starts against the Yankees, allowing five runs over 10.2 innings, walking seven to eight strikeouts. His last appearance against them came in 2006 with Texas, when he lasted just 3.2 innings. The Yanks would love that to happen again. Not only would it be good for morale, but it would take some pressure off Hughes. Not that Hughes can’t pitch under pressure, but it’s always nice to stake your young starters to leads.
While it’s understandable that the Yankees swapped David Robertson for Brett Tomko (and DFA’d Eric Hacker), the roster still isn’t optimal. The bench right now consists of Kevin Cash, Angel Berroa, Ramiro Pena, and Brett Gardner. In other words, there’s not a significant advantage to pinch hitting for Francisco Cervelli. This kind of bench is serviceable (but by no means good) when Melky is the worst hitter in the order. The Yanks could still use a decent bat to pinch hit, which makes me wonder why they don’t swap out Ramiro Pena for Juan Miranda if they’re not going to DFA Berroa. Pena can always be recalled if there’s an injury to A-Rod, which I suppose is the rationale for keeping Berroa around at this point. Also, there’s still no word on the 40-man move to accompany Tomko’s addition. I’m not sure if they can put Kennedy on the 60-day, since he wasn’t on the active roster. If that does in fact disqualify him, look for Nady to slide to the 60-day. Otherwise, count on Kennedy.
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B — felt good to type that for the first time this season
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Melky Cabrera, CF
9. Francisco Cervelli, C
And on the mound, number sixty-five, Phil Hughes.