Jul
10

Hughes rolls over Mariners in 6-1 victory

By

While the strange saga of the Cliff Lee non-trade dominated the baseball news throughout the afternoon, Phil Hughes and Mark Teixeira made the headlines on Friday night. The Yanks’ young All Star threw seven strong innings to win his 11th game of the season as two Mark Teixeira home runs help power the Yanks to a 6-1 win over the Lee-less Mariners. The Yanks caught half a break as they didn’t have to face the dominant Lee tonight, and with their season-high seventh straight victory, the team improved to 55-31. They are now assured to go into the All Star break in sole possession of first place.

The Good: Phil Hughes

Hughes prep for a dominant outing. Credit: AP Photo, Elaine Thompson

Despite entering the game with a 10-2 record, Phil Hughes had not looked solid of late. He entered the game riding a 24.1-inning stretch of 7.03 ERA pitching, and the Yankees wanted to get him back on track before Tuesday appearance at the All Star Game. Facing the weak-hitting Mariners, Hughes did exactly what the Yankees wanted him to do: He dominated them, throwing 7 innings of one-run ball while striking out five and walking no one. He enters the break 11-2 with a 3.65 ERA.

It’s tough to nitpick this Hughes start. He threw 109 pitches and escaped trouble in the 6th. He fired 79 strikes, 10 of them of the swing-and-miss variety, and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of 27 batters. With a poor offensive club, he did exactly what he needed to do.

Yet, he didn’t mix his pitches much. All but 17 of his pitches were fastballs, and those 17 were curves. Staked to a comfortable lead, he didn’t try a single change-up, and he seemed hesitant to throw the devastating curve all that often. Against the Mariners, who entered the game hitting .238/.308/.346 as a team, Hughes could get away with it, but to reach the elite levels of his potential, Hughes should begin to find those secondary pitches. All in all, it’s small beans after a great win.

The Good: Mark Teixeira

The first of Mark's two high five sessions of the night. Credit: AP Photo, Elaine Thompson

In the first inning, facing a pitcher Yankee beat writer Marc Carig had termed Not Cliff Lee earlier this evening, Mark Teixeira staked the Yanks to an early lead with a booming solo home run. In the 9th, with the Yanks up 5-1, Teixeira hit a laser into the left field seats for his second dinger of the night. He now has 17 home runs and 59 RBI on the season.

For Teixeira, finishing the first half on a strong note is a positive sign indeed. His spring slump garnered more than a few worried discussions about the Yankee cognoscenti, but Joe Girardi stuck with him through thick and thin. Since June 3 in a span of 150 plate appearances, Teixeira is hitting .289/.393/.578 with 9 home runs and 25 RBI. Over the course of 162 games, that’s MVP-worth. It’s good to have Teixeira back.

For no reason whatsoever, I’d love to see Teixeira get to .250 before the All Star Break. To do that, he’ll have to knock out 4 hits in 9 at-bats or better. It’s not impossible, and it would be a real boost to Teixeira’s lackluster spring to reach that milestone.

The Ugly: Chan Ho Park

Chan Ho's days as a Yankee are probably numbered. Credit: AP Photo, Elaine Thompson

I’m not going to spend too much time ranting about Chan Ho Park because I want to go to bed the Yankees still won, but the 9th inning had the makings of a debacle. Facing the Mariners’ 5-6-7-8-9 hitters, Park almost couldn’t get the job done. It took him 32 pitches to get three outs, and three of the hitters he ended up facing had OBPs under .295. With the game in hand, Park almost pitched his way into a save situation.

I don’t totally get Park at this point. The Yanks loved his stuff last year, and they signed him to a $1.2 million deal with the understanding that, if he wasn’t up to par, they could just eat the contract. He’s allowing 1.5 base runners per inning and has an ERA north of 6.00. He shows flashes of brilliance — such as tonight when he hit 95 and was sitting 94 with his fastballl — and flashes of nothing — such as tonight as well when he went to 3-2 on two guys with awful offensive numbers. The Yanks don’t trust him in a tight spot, and Jonathan Albaladejo can’t be worse.

Anyway, if I’m complaining about the mop-up man, it was a good night.

The State of Things

The 2010 Yankees are now the first team since the 1999 Astros to have three pitchers with 11 or more wins at the All Star Break. They’re also the first Yankee club since the 2004 edition to enter the break with sole possession of first place, and over their last five games, the club’s pitchers have given up six runs. At 55-31, they have the best record in baseball, and Brian Cashman figures to upgrade the bench and bullpen before the trade deadline. Sounds good to me.

Goin’ down

By the end, this game was as close and as boring as the WPA graph indicates. It’s my favorite kind of win.

Up Next

While Cliff Lee may be gone, King Felix is not. The Mariners will send Felix Hernandez to the hill for a rematch with Javier Vazquez. The last time these two faced off, Felix fanned 10 Yankees and threw a two-hitter. The game starts at 10:10 p.m., and it is the final late-night start for the Yankees of 2010.

Categories : Game Stories

42 Comments»

  1. So can we like almost-but-not-quite trade for Felix tomorrow only to have, say, Philadelphia to swoop in and way overpay for him and either way Javy doesn’t have to face him?

  2. Total Dominication says:

    Can we get a fangraphs graph on the Lee trade talks today.

  3. Pat D says:

    Wow, Corey Patterson hits a top of the ninth, 2 out, game-tying grand slam off Neftali Feliz.

    Just great. Now who’s the NL supposed to fear to close out the ASG?

    • Total Dominication says:

      Valverde’s been amazing.

      • Pat D says:

        Yea, but the NL has seen him before. Soriano, too.

        Though I guess I don’t really have a point, as I seem to have forgotten about interleague play.

        • bexarama says:

          Eh, good pitching is good pitching. The NL has a lot of hitters that have spend time in the AL and have seen Mariano too, probably. I do wonder who Girardi goes to if there’s a save situation.

  4. AndrewYF says:

    Fun fact: over their last five games, Yankee pitching has given up a total of six runs.

  5. Carlosologist says:

    Alex is sitting on 597 HR. If he gets to hitting three more HR before his birthday, he’ll be the youngest man to hit 600 HR. Then the march to 700 and the record will begin.

  6. Jon G says:

    OK, how many more appearances by Park before he gets the DFA. His current pattern of use (and time as a Yankee) is very much like Hawkins’ a couple of years ago…

    Is he here this time next week?

    When do we see a Park for Romolo move..?

    Or perhaps Park for Alby…

    • Jon G says:

      And I bring that up because once he had put runners on second and third, I thought to myself “please don’t turn this into a save situation – let Mo rest…”

    • Chris says:

      Quote from Girardi about Park over on LoHud:

      “I thought his stuff was about as good as we’ve seen,” Girardi said.

      • Rick in Boston says:

        Like Ben said, he was sitting 94 with his fastball. His stuff looked good, but the results aren’t there. Good stuff without good results ends up being Armando Benitez-level mediocrity.

        • nsalem says:

          It is unjust to call Armando’s career mediocre. Yes he did have a couple of bad playoff games (not the only one), but looking at his whole body of work I see quite a competent closer who helped lead his team to the post season several times. He was an all star who has been unfortunately measured in comparison to the Deity across the river. Also if I hear another Met fan say the Mets would have won the WS in 2000 if he had not walked Paulie, I am going to hurl on their shoes.

          • Pete says:

            yes. Compared to Mariano Rivera or some of the older half-starter closers like Eckersley, Gossage, etc., Armando Benitez is mediocre. Compared to “elite” closers of today like Papelbon, K-Rod, Valverde, Cordero, etc., he was pretty high-end.

  7. JobaWockeeZ says:

    I thought Park got unlucky. There was a borderline should have been strike 3 call that would have ended the game with no baserunners in the 9th. Then a single and the luckiest god damn infield hit made the situation worse than it should have been.

  8. Januz says:

    Tonight’s game will be one to watch. If “King Felix” can’t beat Vazquez, they have a good chance of going 0-7 on a home stand (Before the Yankees came to town, they were swept by the Royals of all teams). The way the Mariners, Dimondbacks, Indians and Pirates are going, Gerrit Cole may not be in Baltimore (Speaking of Baltimore, I can’t believe what they did in Texas last night). As for the Yankees, with Tex and Arod heating up, everyone on their schedule has reason to be afraid.

  9. I know CHoP has had his fair share of ugly outings this year, but I don’t think last night qualifies as one. He gave up one solid single and a lucky ass Baltimore chop, no pun intended. The hitters were just able to foul off a lot of good pitches from him. It wasn’t like Phil was clean through those same hitters last night.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      I agree. He had the third batter on a called strike three, but the ump refused to pull the trigger. Then, the next guy, after the third guy singled (notice how unmemorable the Mariner lineup is), chopped a fluke hit off the plate. You could argue Park’s pitch was too good there. I didn’t think he was that bad last night.

  10. Bob says:

    “I thought his stuff was about as good as we’ve seen,” Girardi on Chan Ho Park

  11. UWS says:

    Good to see Hughes right the ship a little bit.

    Bad to see the offense once again get nothin’ against another mediocre pitcher.

    Also, bexy, this one’s for you:
    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play......d=10906542

  12. Steve says:

    I know blogs are designed such that they are skewed towards subjective opinions, but give credit for where it was last night. The night would have been shorter and ended 10 pitches earlier had the Mariners not pulled off the aforementioned Baltimore Chop in what looked like concrete in front of the plate.

  13. Bill says:

    Park sucks. When are the powers to be going to get hid of him?

  14. David in Cal says:

    A few of Park’s breaking balls were excellent, but some weren’t. He lost confidence in his breaking pitches (reasonably IMHO). Given the score he was determined not to walk anyone. So, the Ms were able to focus on the fast ball.

    If Park pitched more regularly maybe he’d have better control of both pitches. Or, maybe that’s wishful thinking.

    • Mr. Sparkle says:

      I said it earlier, but I’ll repeat…I don’t think Park was bad last night. He had the third batter on a called strike three, but the ump wouldn’t ring him up and he subsequently lined a single to right. He then broke off a nasty breaking pitch to the next batter, who beat it into to ground for a fluke chop hit. Let’s face it, he didn’t plan it that way and a slower runner would have been out. I’m not a Park fan, but I would be willing to give him a break last night.

  15. jng says:

    I think Hughes’ reliance on his fastball last night gives us clues as to the Y’s intention with the Cliff Lee trade and with the rest of Hughes’ season. I think Hughes was headed to the bullpen to hold down his innings. Fastball is the key pitch there. What happens now is an interesting question. Lee would have nicely covered Hughes’ slot in the rotation. With Tampa coming on strong, Y’s can’t readily afford to give up Hughes’ quality starts.

  16. chriso says:

    Bash Chan Ho all you want. I wince whenever I see him out on the mound. But i don’t get the concern about Hughsie’s use of his fastball 85% of the time. Maybe he didn’t feel like he had the good curve. Maybe he didn’t feel like he had a good change. And he threw two different fastballs! His four-seamer at 93-94 and his cutter at 88-90. Those are pitches with two different kinds of movement, so they might as well be thought of as two different pitches. Isn’t it a positive sign when a young pitcher, recognizing that he doesn’t have his best secondary stuff that day, can win anyway?

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