So Phil Hughes. This guy likes to pitch in Texas. Last time out in Arlington, Hughes threw a no-hitter for 6.1 innings. This time, he was better.
For eight innings this afternoon, Hughes bewildered and beguiled the Rangers’ hitters. For eight innings, Hughes silenced the Rangers’ generally potent bats. For eight innings, Hughes showed us the promise and potential this 22-year-old right-hander has, and for nine innings, the Yankee bats powered Hughes and the team to an 11-1 victory.
Wearing red hats in honor of Memorial Day, the Yankees started out on fire today. Facing Matt Harrison, a Major League pitcher with no 1-2-3 first innings to his name, the Yanks went double-single-double-single and found themselves up 2-0 with no outs. While a Robinson Cano double play stifled the rally, the two runs would be both a harbinger of things to come and enough runs to win the game.
Meanwhile, Phil Hughes was seemingly rolling. He had a quick first inning but ran into trouble in the second. A Nelson Cruz double and a Hank Blalock HBP had the Rangers queued up for a big inning. When Hughes fell behind to Marlon Byrd, Dave Eiland paid a visit to the mound, and after that, it was all Phil Hughes. He got Byrd to strike out looking, and Chris Davis and Taylor Teagarden to strike out swinging. It was arguably Hughes’ finest bit of pitching as a Major Leaguer.
In the third, the Yanks’ bats put the game out of reach. Johnny Damon doubled, and Mark Teixeira walked. A-Rod banged out his second of five hits to put the Yanks up by three. A Robinson Cano triple cleared the bases, and two batters later, a Nick Swisher ground out made it 6-0 Yanks.
Up and down went the Rangers as Hughes continued to roll. He scattered three hits and walked just one batter. By the time he reached 101 pitches after eight innings, Hughes’ dominant day would be done. He threw 65 of his pitches for strikes and needed an efficient 4.2 pitches per out. He threw calmly, he threw confidently, and he let his stuff do the talking. This outing saw him lower his ERA by nearly 2.00 runs, and he has now struck out 15 over his last 14 innings of work. He will stay in the rotation.
The Yankees meanwhile continued to hit. They knocked Harrison out of the game after just five innings of work and went to work on Kris Benson. By the end of the day, they had knocked out 19 hits, went 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position, scored 11 runs and still managed to leave 10 runners on base. A-Rod had a five-hit game; Kevin Cash picked up three base hits; and every Yankee starter had at least one hit.
With their win, the Yanks have won 13 out of 17. They’re in second place in the AL East, just one game behind the Red Sox, and they hold the AL Wild Card spot right now as well. This team is rolling, and they’ll hand the ball over to Joba Chamberlain tomorrow. It sure is fun to win.
Notes: By going 5-for-5, A-Rod is now hitting .259/.411/.672. He raised his average by .070 points, his OBP by .039 points and his slugging by .068. He also has 17 RBI and 7 home runs in 17 games…The Yankees have recalled David Robertson to take the place of an injured Brian Bruney. Joe will have more about the bullpen later tonight…For in-game thoughts, breaking news and general Yankee discussion in 140 characters or less, make sure to follow River Ave. Blues on Twitter.