May
03

Hughes dominates Sox in 12-3 victory

By

I hope to write the same headline again later this week.

The offense might seem the focal point in a 12-3 win, and the Yanks’ hitters certainly put on a display. The story, though, was Phil Hughes and his continued dominance of the American League. He threw 99 pitches in seven innings, and might have come out for the eighth if not for a 10-batter, five-run bottom of the seventh. Everything looked good, from his strikeouts to his lack of walks, and especially to his lack of hits allowed. I can’t wait to see him face the Red Sox this weekend.

Biggest Hit: Cano ices it

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

From the couch, this game felt pretty well in control from the beginning. The Yanks put together a run in the second, and then nearly struck it big in the third. With the bases loaded and two outs Mark Buehrle threw a changeup that caught a bit too much of the plate. Jorge Posada hit it on a line, but right to Juan Pierre. Still, it seemed like they were on the brink of getting to Buehrle.

They confirmed that in the fifth inning. For the second time in the game Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher hit back-to-back singles to set up Robinson Cano. While Buehrle pitched around him the first time, he went at him with fastballs in the fifth. Cano fouled off the first and swung through the second, putting himself in an 0-2 hole. The next pitch, a changeup, was in a good location, low and away, but Cano adjusted and got his bat head on the ball. About a second later it collided with the right field stands, and the Yankees took a 5-0 lead.

With his 2 for 4 day Cano improves his triple slash to .387/.433/.763. He came into the day trailing Justin Morneau, who went 2 for 6 with two doubles, in wOBA. Will the homer and the walk make up the difference? We’ll see in the morning.

Honorable Mention: Gardner’s no doubter

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Coming into the game Brett Gardner had seen 4.17 pitches per plate appearances, third in the AL. (Curtis Granderson was fourth. Never would have guessed.) He saw only two during his first at-bat, but he made them count. The second time up, though, Gardner worked up his average. Buehrle worked him mostly away, mixing his four-seamer and cutter. Gardner didn’t deign to swing, and five pitches later the count was full.

Buehrle tried to blow an 86 mph fastball by Gardner, but he squared up the high pitch and absolutely crushed it over the right field wall. It ended up in the first row of the bleachers, so it wasn’t some cheapie. That’s not Gardner’s game, of course. His game is more like what he did in the first. Still, the Yanks will take it any time. He’s really taken to his starting role so far, hitting .342/.410/.438 in 83 PA.

Biggest Pitch: Kotsay’s leadoff single

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

The sign of a truly dominant start: the hit that made the biggest dent in the WPA is a hit to lead off the game. That raised Chicago’s chances of winning by 3.4 percent. Seriously. That’s as big a dent they made in the game. Hughes completely shut them down, and then the Yankees’ offense pounced. The White Sox had a couple of similar positive WPA swings in the third and fourth innings, but they were more of the same. Hughes quickly rendered them moot.

While his four-seamer remains his weapon of choice, Hughes threw 22 cutters yesterday, generating five swings and misses. He also threw it for a strike 18 times, quite the ratio. He worked in a good number of changeups, including one on a strikeout of Mark Teahen in the fourth. (Note: pitch f/x classified it a fastball for some reason.) Everything seems to be in place for Hughes. Again, he’ll get his biggest test to date over the weekend.

Slump busting

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Both Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira have started the season slow, hitting under .200 for the first month. While Johnson’s struggles continue, he did double during the five-run seventh. He’s still hitting .141, but with Curtis Granderson’s bat out of the lineup it’s doubtful that Girardi platoons him with Thames. Maybe he’ll get back into a groove this week.

Mark Teixeira presents the more exciting case. He entered the series hitting .139/.292/.266, but after going 6 for 11 with a double he raised that to .188/.336/.311. He broke out of his slump around this time last year. He’ll get a chance to feast on some Orioles pitching to keep it going.

Joys

Gardner’s homer. That thing was just a shot. Not what we expect from him at all.

Robinson Cano. Because damn, he just keeps hitting.

Phil Hughes. It’s like picking a winner in the Derby.

Seeing Mark Melancon get into a game. Even if he did give up the Konerko homer, I’d still like to see more of him while he’s up. Though that might not be for much longer.

Annoyances

None to register. This game was an absolute joy.

WPA Graph

Behold, my latest invention!

Next Up

The Orioles just swept the Red Sox, and now they’re headed up to New York to face the Yankees for three games. The Yanks will send their best to the mound, while the O’s will send…Jeremy Guthrie. Body armor up.

Categories : Game Stories

54 Comments»

  1. Dirty Pena says:

    He came into the day trailing Justin Morneau,

    In what? Pints of opponents’ blood drank?

  2. ecksodia says:

    “It’s like picking a winner in the Derby.”

    Sums up my feelings quite nicely.

  3. Hughes might be my favorite part of the 2010 season right now

  4. Stolen from Twitter: RT @joerosinski: Phil Hughes has pitched 7+ innings twice this year. That’s as many times as opposing starters have done it against the Yankees.

  5. dkidd says:

    price?

  6. JGS says:

    Justin Morneau, current: .349/.477/.663/1.139
    Robinson Cano, current: .387/.433/.763/1.196

    wOBA probably has them closer because of Morneau’s OBP edge

    • Rose says:

      It’s amazing how Justin Morneau slides under the radar year after year. You really never hear about him…only here and there…and everytime you do…he’s raking the ball and doing wonderous things.

  7. Salty Buggah says:

    It’s funny how Johnson hit the ball hard twice and both times he makes an out. The double came on a decently hit, bloop-ish ball. Maybe his BABIP is regressing to the mean? I hope so.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Speaking of BABIP, I expect some regression from Hughes as his BABIP is only .132, though his LD% is also a measly 12.5% but that should also normalize soon (his career is 20.8%). His LOB% is also high at 83.3%.

      Even though he’ll obviously regress, I think an ERA from 3.20-3.70 isn’t out of the question for him. A sub-2.00 ERA, or even a sub-3.00, is great and all but that’s an unreasonable expectation. If Hughes can somehow end with such a low ERA, we’ll all do JIOurP but an ERA in the low to mid 3s is excellent, though you don’t need me to tell you all that.

      • DaveinMD says:

        I’d expect his line drive percentage to be less then it was. He was much more of a ground ball/strike out guy in the minors. Now that his stuff is all the way back, that should be who he is.

  8. Meat Loaf says:

    Top 3 stories this season that I love:
    1. Cano’s long overdue appreciation
    2. Hughes being downright ace-like
    3. GARDNER BLASTS ONE!!!

    (On a side note, where does Ron Washington get off on making fun of Eric Byrne’s mental error after Washington did *CRACK*? Can we all laugh at him?)

  9. Tommy Fusco says:

    what does gardner have to do to get a contract and stay in NY in 2011?

    • Marcos says:

      Hit anywhere near .270/.360 and play his usual stellar defense, it wouldn’t hurt him to hit some doubles and steal a crapload of bases.

      • Tommy Fusco says:

        thanks.
        so, in your opinion, he’ll stay, even if the yanks add Crawford?

        • radnom says:

          If the Yanks feel the need to add Crawford this offseason that means Gardner proves to be a 4th outfielder and probably stays.

        • vin says:

          I don’t think the Yanks will sign Crawford if Gardner shows that he can be the type of player that Girardi/KLong/Cashman thinks he can be. The only big contract coming off the books next year is Javy (assuming they re-sign Jeter/Rivera).

          They may be better off spending their money on a starter (depends on Joba’s future though).

    • whozat says:

      He won’t be up for arbitration yet, right? If not, it’s pretty much a given that his contract will be renewed at something a little above the minimum, and be at least the 4th OFer on the 2011 team.

    • Dirty Pena says:

      To get a (major league) contract: be in the majors
      To stay in NY: not get traded

      He’ll still make the minimum next year, and he’s under team control through 2014.

  10. bexarama says:

    This game was just really fun to watch. Nice to have a game like that after the game yesterday and being so freaked out about Grandy’s injury. I really love Mark Buehrle, he’s one of my favorite non-Yankees, but I love that he frequently gets beat up by the Yankees more. :D

    Gardner’s HR was awesome because as you and everyone said, it was A SHOT. Hilarious. Cano is on another level. Hughes has been a real joy to watch this year. I know he’ll definitely struggle this year, but it’s awesome to see what he’s doing right now.

  11. dkidd says:

    hopefully gardner plays well enough to make us pause before throwing money at carl crawford

    personally, i hope we pass on cc part deux. sign starting pitchers, develop and trade for everyone else

    today’s game was never in doubt. not for one second. it’s good to be a yankee fan

    • Slugger27 says:

      sign starting pitchers, develop and trade for everyone else

      i think this is backwards

      it’s good to be a yankee fan

      this is definitely not

  12. BigBlueAL says:

    Most impressive part was Hughes throwing 93-95 mph the entire game. Who wouldve thought that Hughes as a SP would wind up throwing harder for the most part than Joba as a RP.

  13. Zack says:

    I cant imagine what giving up a bomb to Gardner does to your confidence.

  14. JohnC says:

    Think their will be some fireworks tonight if Guthrie hits a Yankee?

  15. larryf says:

    Yes, of course. How much can we take?

  16. Bill in Boston says:

    What’s the latest invention?

    (sorry for the dumb question)

  17. Johnny O says:

    If Gardner can have a positive WAR, I say forget Crawford and go after Cliff Lee.

    • Slugger27 says:

      gardner will almost undoubtedly have a positive WAR… he’s the worst starting player on the team (when granderson isn’t injured) but he’s certainly better than a replacement player

      his defense and baserunning should be worth close to 2 wins alone

      and i agree about crawford.. i’m very much in the “keep gardner in left and sign lee” camp

      • mike c says:

        yeah gardner could very well be a crawford type of player if he keeps it up this year. I’d be worried about AP leaving next year, so lee should definitely be on the radar

    • CS Yankee says:

      Agreed

      I am (am is getting closer to a “was” now) hoping that Javy gets corrected, finds his heater, his form, and aggressiveness and does his role as a very solid #3 SP. Plunk a few guys or kill a subway rat…something already, let us know your pissed.

      However, 4 out of the 5 starters are pitching lights out good baseball and should stay with the plan (for another month at least). I don’t want Hughes to get all his innings in so early that they decide to do something silly come August/September with limits.

      Lee does seem like the best choice as the new 4th (LOL) starter.

      • Ojas says:

        So, if Pettitte retires, Javy isn’t re-signed, and Cliff Lee is signed, who will be our 5th starter? Better yet, who would be considered for the role? Joba and McCallister?

        Either way, if the first three conditions are satisfied (very possible, IMO) we’d have a beast of a front-4: CC, Lee, AJ, Phil. Awesome

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