Jul
07

Rally falls short in Hughes return to rotation

By

The story coming into Wednesday night’s game was Phil Hughes‘ return to the rotation, and the story at the end of the night was the Yankees’ third loss in their last four games. Hughes was adequate at best, but the offense couldn’t muster a damn thing until it was too late.

Pitched from the stretch way too much.

Hughes’ Return

For the most part, Hughes looked like 2010 second half version of himself. He had no trouble getting strike one or even strike two, but strike three proved rather elusive. The Indians fouled off 25 of his 87 pitches, and only twice did they swing and miss. Phil’s fastball velocity was fine (mostly 91-93 mph) and held it pretty well throughout the start, but his location was awful (seemed like everything was in the middle of the plate) and his curveball had more tumble than bite. Again, basically the same thing we saw after the All-Star break last year.

The first inning was pretty messy, especially when you include Russell Martin throwing the ball into left field on a steal attempt of third, and Hughes allowed the leadoff man to reach in four of five innings. He didn’t have a single 1-2-3 inning but did a fine job of pitching around trouble after that first inning, when the two runs scored. Five innings and two runs probably would have been five innings and four or five runs against a better team, but at least Hughes settled down after that ugly first and can build on those last four innings. He really needs to improve that location though, that was the ginormous red flag.

Mastered, Son

Of course, what Hughes did was of little consequence to the outcome of the game because the Yankees had no answer for Justin Masterson. They wouldn’t have score a run off him if the had five outs per inning. Masterson’s sinker was running all over the plate and touching at high as 97, harder than I ever remember him throwing before. The Yankees had men on first and second with no outs in the second but didn’t get another runner past first base until the eighth inning. He dominated them, no other way to put it.

Pretty much the only highlight for New York.

Too Little, Too Late

The Yankees did manage to push three runs across in the ninth inning, but it was just a little too late. The low-leverage dream team of Boone Logan (gave up a solo homer to a lefty) and Sergio Mitre (walked the bases loaded, then walked in a run) allowed Cleveland to score a pair of insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, which were ultimately the deciding runs. Nick Swisher was the only player to consistently hit the ball hard, falling victim to great plays by Matt LaPorta (diving on a ball down the line) and Grady Sizemore (jumping at the wall) before his ninth inning double dropped in over Michael Brantley’s head. The three runs will help the Pythag. record, but that’s pretty much it.

Leftovers

Nothing nice, Boone.

Derek Jeter doubled to right in the ninth eighth, his 2,997th career hit. Hopefully the milestone hit comes Friday, when I’ll be in the stands. If he doesn’t do it then, then just get it during the homestand so we can all move on.

Mark Teixeira went hitless in four at-bats and is down to a .243 batting average with a .347 OBP. That’s not exactly $180M contract, three-hole hitter on a World Series contender production. Alex Rodriguez had two hits and fantastic diving stop to help Logan escape a jam in the sixth inning. Robinson Cano and Martin also had hits, but that’s pretty much it offensively.

The trio of Logan, Mitre, and Luis Ayala combined to put eight men on base in three innings, all while Hector Noesi warmed up and twiddling his thumbs in the bullpen. The kid needs to go down and pitch regularly as a starter, because his role on the team is undefined and his usage is completely erratic. That whole situation is moronic, it’s like they’re going out of their way to devalue an asset. Then they’ll trade him and he’ll perform well, and they’ll wonder why he didn’t pitch like that in pinstripes.

The microphones in the booth picked up no fewer than three cans of (presumably) soda being opened, by my count. One for each run, I guess. The Yankees lost their first series since being swept by Boston seven series ago. Seven out of eight ain’t bad.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

One more series before the All-Star break, and it’s a four gamer against the Rays at home. Bartolo Colon will start things off against Jeff Niemann on Thursday night. Jeter’s chase for 3,000 has ticket prices through the roof, but RAB Tickets can get you there (relatively) cheap.

Categories : Game Stories

94 Comments»

  1. Bob Michaels says:

    Jeter`s double came in the eight not the ninth.Yankees need further work on the bull pen

  2. Meat Loaf says:

    For some reason I found the Mario coin-collecting “chime” whenever the Indians scored a run… absolutely hilarious.

    On a much darker note, I’m up for dumping at least three arms in our pen, right now.

  3. Freddy Garcia's 86 mph Heat says:

    I’m hoping Jeter’s 3000th is a walk off against Kyle Farnsworth. But that’s just me.

  4. China Joe says:

    I wouldn’t have minded Hughes staying in the minors for a while to work on his offspeed stuff, especially with Nova pretty much holding his own in the rotation. They rushed him back like he was a veteran, but he’s (hopefully) not a finished product, and him developing a put-away offspeed pitch is one of the most important keys to the Yankees’ pitching staff going forward.

    • Adam B says:

      I agree with you but Hughes has nothing left to learn in the minors… He simply has to learn how to finish off big leaguers…

      Honestly I love Phil Hughes and he is the first yankees prospect I followed since day 1 but he simply has not lived up to the hype… I really hope he gets things turned because we all know what he is capable of…

      • Smallz says:

        I dont think its fair to say he hasnt lived up to the hype. He did win 18 games last year and showed he could be a dominant reliever in 09, I wouldnt say Hughes has been a bust at all. I was very encouraged by the way he worked out of his jams yesterday. Early season Hughes would of blown that game wide open. His fastball location and getting the curve over for strikes is key. If he cant spot the curve for strikes, theres no reason to swing at it. Batters will take it everytime.

  5. Drew says:

    I am not terribly disappointed in Hughes start tonight. 5IP 2ER is not too bad. I wasn’t expecting anything crazy, you would like for him to miss a few more bats but it was his first start in almost 3 months. Also I don’t understand why Giradi took Hughes out after 5 in favor of the misfits in the pen, also it boggles my mind how Sergio has a place on this team right now. Hes just the absolute worst, I imagine him being of of “Girardi’s boys” (Cervelli,Mitre,and previously Farnsworth) is why he is still even in baseball at this point.

    • CP says:

      This idea of “Girardi’s boys” is ridiculous. Farnsworth was effective and Cervelli has only played regularly when the starting catcher was injured.

  6. Chris A says:

    25 Homeruns and 65 RBI’s, (along with elite defense) at this point in the season is excellent production from our 3 hitter. Also wanting Jeter to get the hit so we can move on? How about trying to enjoy the moment…

    • Urban says:

      Yeah, really.

      I understand his point, but it’s not as if trying to move on from someone dying. #3,000 is a positive.

    • JMK says:

      You sound slow.

    • Monteroisdinero says:

      Because Michael Kay is so annoyingly involved? And the current Derek Jeter isn’t very good? Let him get the three bouncer to Longoria already and move him out of leadoff asap.

      • Cris Pengiuci says:

        Or a double, as he has in the last two games. He’s at least elevating the ball a bit more since coming off the DL.

        /lookingforanythingpositive

    • dhcano says:

      How about doing it now so NYY fans can actually be present to witness a homegrown guy achieve something pretty rare?

      Sheesh!

  7. Jerome S. says:

    I blame Jeter for this, somehow. i’ll sleep on it.

  8. Urban says:

    Sterling was driving me crazy in the 9th, noting that if the Yankee bullpen had held the game to 2-0 or even 3-0, then they would have possible won the game in the 9th. He seemed to ignore that is the game was 2-0 or 3-0 then Chris Perez would have started the inning for the Indians. There was a much better chance the Yankees would have lost 2-0 as opposed to losing 5-3.

    • JMK says:

      Chris Perez isn’t very good. Doesn’t miss a lot of bats (this year at least), and issues a lot of walks. His flukey HR/FB (2.3 percent) is what’s given him a good ERA.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        John Sterling isn’t very good either. Can’t stand his morbid depression when things aren’t going our way.

        I was listening to the Indians’ radio announcer and he was yelling during the 8th and 9th innings as if the tribe had won the World Series.

      • Urban says:

        Perez actually does have good stuff, although his peripherals are not as strong as his results. Thirty innings spread out of half a season is not exactly a strong sample size to determine if a guy if good or not good. He is regarded as having a very arm. I’ve followed advanced metrics for years, but people do get a little carried away making grand statements about a player’s ability based on metrics and SSS.

        Regardless, that wasn’t quite the point I was making. It was a knock on Sterling, who ignored that Perez, Cleveland’s closer, would have been in the game earlier if it was a close game. Sure enough, once Pestano put the first three runners on without retiring a single batter, Perez came in and retired all three batters he faced. He would have been there from the very first batter if the score was still 3-0, and the very scenario Sterling was moaning about never would have occurred.

        If Cleveland doesn’t score another two runs, statistically the odds are high the Yankees would have lost 3-0, as opposed to 5-3.

  9. Dale Mohorcic says:

    Bringing meat tray into a game down by only 3 is a terrible tactical decision. Leaving him in to implode is a horribly stupid decision. That game was winnable. The failure to hold the Indians at a 3 run lead is highly attributable to Girardi’s incomprehensible faith in meat tray.

    • jon g says:

      Xactly. We shouldnt see Mitre in unless the yanks are down by at least 10. So annoyed that he is back. Ugh.

      Girardi blew it, managing the pen today like the yanks were down by…10

      • Fohorn Leghorn says:

        i’m not very bright, but I don’t think we should ever have to see Mitre in a game, regardless of the score. he stinks.

      • pat says:

        Yea, Girardi skipped over his multitude of lockdown relievers and chose Mitre. Wait, what?

        • Smallz says:

          I totally agree. Cory Wade has been pitching good and Noesi has been pretty good too. I really dont understand how you turn to Mitre there. It seemed like Girardi played this game like they were down 6-0. It was only 3-0 it was very much a game within reach of winning.

          • Urban says:

            Yet as I noted above, what difference did it make? The Yankees would have lost 3-0, since Perez would have been in to start the top of the 9th. They didn’t call him in until Pestano pulled a Mitre and made a mess of the inning letting the first three runners on. Soon as Perez came in, he retired all three batters, striking out one, and getting two ground-ball outs.

            So would you have felt better losing 3-0?

            The Yankees weren’t going to win last night because of Masterson. Mitre was backgound noise.

        • David, Jr. says:

          To Girardi, Mitre is his pitching version of Cody Ransom the Box Jumper. Definite warm feeling there. No idea why.

    • Adam B says:

      I disagree, Masterson was electric last night and if the AL All Star Team was the starting lineup for the yankees he still would have shut em out, he was that good and he got every borderline strike call… Pitchers have those nights and you just have to shake your head and move on and win the next game.

      • Urban says:

        Exactly. The Yankees most likely weren’t going to win that game last night, and it had little to do with Mitre.

        That said, a little bit of luck and the Yankees certainly could have scored two runs, which means we’d never see Mitre in the game. A great play at first by LaPorta robbed the Yankees, two excellent plays by Cabrera in one inning, and an excellent play by Sizemore all held the Yankees down from scoring a single run. Posada also smoked a ball to CF. Yet, overall, Masterson was dominating. I don’t know where he found this extra velocity, but he had it last night.

        • Evan3457 says:

          Yanks win probability at the moment Mitre entered the game was 6.1%, meaning the odds of them rallying to win were about 16 to 1 against. Their current record when behind after 7 is 2-28, which is 14-1 against. Raise that a little because they’re a top offensive team, and lower it back because the Indians’ pen has been very good this year. So 14-1 against.

          Actually, it’s moderately amazing they got 3 garbage time runs off Pestano, who was having a great year until last night. All Mitre did was turn a very bad strategic situation and turn it into an almost impossible one.

  10. BigBlueAL says:

    Didnt like that it seemed after the struggles in the 1st inning Hughes went back to being cutter crazy. He did get several cheap flies and ground outs with it though.

  11. Will (the other one) says:

    Not sure what Teixeira’s deal is. His strikeout, walk, and LD rates are right in line with his career averages (in fact, his strikeouts are actually a couple points lower), but he’s hitting just .218 on balls in play–a full eighty points off his career pace.

    To me, that’s good enough to explain the precipitous drop in average for this season, but what it doesn’t explain is the three-year trend downwards in Tex’s BABIP. Has his approach changed? Is he trying too hard to swing for the fences (as perhaps evidenced by a career-high ISO this year)? Or might it just be a dumb-luck thing that will eventually regress?

    • Thomas Cassidy says:

      The shift they employ on him has a lot to do with it.

      • the Other Steve S. says:

        It’s the right field wall. Go ask Giambi about it.

        • JohnnyC says:

          Right. He’s trying to pull everything from the left side. Guess this is one case Dr. Long has failed to diagnose.

          • Evan3457 says:

            Tex has been a severe pull hitter from both sides throughout his career.

            It’s his inability to deal with offspeed stuff low with two strikes, especially the changeup. It showed up 1st in the 2009 post-season, and he hasn’t figured a counter to it yet.

    • Nicky the Swish says:

      As far as Teixeira goes, a few things stand out to me. In the last 2 seasons the percentage of pitches he’s seeing inside the strike zone has dropped to 42.2% and 40.9%, while his career average is 47.4%. At the same time, he’s swinging at more of those pitches outside the zone – 26.5% in 2010 and 25.3% in 2011, compared to a career average of 21.8% – and making contact on those swings far more often (68.5% and 68.8%, with a career average of just 57.1%). In all, I think this serves as a viable explanation for his absurdly low BABIP – more bad pitches to hit, more swings at those bad pitches, more success at making (poor) contact on those bad pitches.

  12. ItsATarp says:

    Honestly, i thought the offense hit the balls well when Masterson came too close to the plate but alas we had nothing to show for it. Masterson was great, glad the sox traded him.

  13. stuart a says:

    mitre.. why is he even on the team? The ydo not have a younger version of him?

    nice move by hafner trying to avoid the pitch Logan hit him with!!!!!!!the ump sucked.. that is not a HBP. the guy made absolutely no attempt to avoid the pitch.

    tex is doing nothing and Cano is a hack.. no patience..

    the posada K with 2 on and 1 out was the key time in the game… 1 for 8 with RISP, will not get it done.

    need to see 2 more outings from Phil. must be able to put batters awway better then 2 swings and misses.

    • Thomas Cassidy says:

      Logan does throw 95+…

    • Will says:

      Eh, Mitre this, Mitre that…Mitre is a useful asset if his sinker is around 90-91 with average command, like last year. If it’s floating in at 88 with no command whatsoever (like in the Mets game and tonight), he is pretty much useless.

      That said, I’m way more peeved at Phil Hughes bumping Nova out of the rotation, because that has unnecessarily disrupted what was a well-oiled machine. The best argument for Hughes over Nova seems to be that Hughes won 18 games last year, but that is BS—he was getting CC-like run support last year, and was shitty outside of the first 6 weeks of the season. Hughes and Nova are close to the same age, and at this point, Nova is a better pitcher. He may not miss many bats, but NEITHER DOES HUGHES…and Nova at least gets ground balls. I really hope the Yankee brain trust realizes their mistake sooner rather than (too-)later.

      • Mojo says:

        Agreed.

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        Nova has better stuff and certainly better off speed stuff but he is not a coach’s son type in the Yankee scheme of things. Nunez and Nova forever battling the coach and his 2 boys (and their brother Sergio).

        • the Other Steve S. says:

          This

        • Jim S says:

          Oh dear lord, seriously with this?

        • Jim S says:

          You want Nova to be a long man instead of get regular starts in the minors so that he can actually be a useful starter?

          I guarantee you if he were still the long man you’d be whining about how he wasn’t starting. And if he was starting, how he’s not the #1/#2 and Girardi hates him for making him the #5. Good gravy.

          • Cris Pengiuci says:

            I’m really torn on this. Yes, at AAA Nova gets a chance to develop further. However, we’re not talking a potential #1 or 2 (or probably even a 3) starter. He’s a 4 or 5. And he’s already proven he is that. How much more development does he need?

            I wouldn’t be upset if he was used as the long man this year with an eye towards moving him back to the rotation next year.

            • Jim S says:

              That’s fair, but this “Girardi’s boys” junk should be left to the NY Post.

              My only issue with potential long man use is getting enough innings to keep up his endurance. But it’s definitely an option.

              I do think he has #3 potential if(big if) he can start missing any bats, but yeah, I agree that he won’t be developing too much more in the minors.

          • Will says:

            Can’t speak for other posters, but I want Nova to continue to be the #5 starter. And although I realize it will never happen, I would be thrilled if I never had to watch Hughes throw another pitch in a Yankee uniform.

            • Urban says:

              …that is until he’s traded away, and then you’ll say differently whenever he pitches well.

              But, yeah, sure, Nova’s really enjoyable to watch.

      • Adam B says:

        It was the only move to make, no one wanted to see Nova go down but it had to be done… Hughes still has time to figure it out and he needs to be in the majors starting every 5 days so he can do that…

        Nova will be back, these things happen… not saying its fair, but it was the only move to make.

    • Klemy says:

      Cabrera made no real attempt to avoid Hughes’ pitch either.

  14. Frank Discussion says:

    Where are the homers now?

  15. nycsportzfan says:

    who cares if Noesi was in the minors pitching regulary, he still would never be of use to us, and no matter how good he did, we’d find a Brian Gordon or Tim Redding, or carlos silva to start instead, and then as soon as Noesi has a hiccup in the minors, ala Adam Warren, he’ll be looked at by people as being not as good as he was showing before…etc Are guys just sit and rot in the minors, and eventually there gonna have a rough patch regardless of it being the Minors or not, and you’ll here murmers of them not being as good as advertised…etc, and then they’ll take longer to get a shot… Just look at Jesus, everyone acts like the guy can’t hit all of a sudden, because he dosen’t have 20hrs and a 330ba…

  16. Lance says:

    Why did hughes get the loss when he gave up 2 runs and the Yanks ended up scoring 3?

    • mike says:

      the yanks never regained the lead.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      Because the Yankees were down 5-0 when they scored 3. A loss goes to the starting pitcher if they left the game with his team in the hole and they never rally to tie or take the lead. In this case, he left down 2-0, the bullpen gave up 3 to make it 5-0.

    • Jorge says:

      This is such a huge baseball pet peeve of mine, just like how the guy who threw one pitch sometimes ends up as the winning pitcher.

      Mitre “lost” the game, but Hughes was the losing pitcher. One of the many reasons wins and losses don’t paint the full picture.

      • forensic says:

        Mitre sucks but he didn’t lose the game. If he doesn’t give up 2 runs then Pestano doesn’t come in the game and instead Perez starts the 9th and the Yankees did nothing against him.

    • Pat D says:

      It’s not as if he pitched that great either.

    • Rainbow Connection says:

      I thought wins and losses were a shit stat (like batting average, RBI’s and HR’s)?

  17. David, Jr. says:

    Fabulous plays at shortstop, although not even in the guy’s top ten fielding gems.

    • Fohorn Leghorn says:

      you’re talking about Jeter, right? he’s got the range!

    • JohnnyC says:

      Good plays by Asdrubal but Yankees batters (I’m looking at you Tex)hit right into the teeth of Cleveland’s shift. There was 40 acres and a mule on the left side and no one took the ball that way…for chrissake are RBIs that cheapened a stat?

  18. LarryM.,Fl. says:

    I did not expect Hughes to be lights out. He was adequate and with a few more starts, the location and bite on his pitches may come back. The Yankees must come up with some plan for him to finish hitters off with two strikes. He continually tries to throw fastballs by the batters to no avail.

    As I sat and watched the nightmare team of Logan, Ayala and Mitre finish the game for us. Anger just filled my brain. How many times does Mitre have to be traded, DFA or recognized as the 13 man on a pitching staff, not to be summoned from the bullpen. If the Yankees were destined to loss last night as Girardi’s moves predetermined with Mitre’s pitching then why don’t we give Noesi some more work. Why have him waste away sitting in the bullpen and touring America as the forgotten man in the bullpen. Logan is no better but until a lefty can be found of any worth then we are stuck. Maybe Whitey Ford wouldn’t mind stretching out for 2 or 3 batters.

    Mitre gives up 2 runs and we loss by 2 runs.

  19. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    How does this help the pythag?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Losing 5-3 > losing 5-0.

      • Klemy says:

        Losing = Losing. Don’t care much by how much in the end, either way = sucks.

        • Jim S says:

          Not the point at all. No one’s saying “oh good, we lost 5-3″, but the fact is, it makes our pythag record look better.

          And really, i DO care about how much we lose by. I would much rather lose 3-2 than 18-1. 3-2 means you had pitching, which bodes well for the future. There aren’t any positives from an 18-1 game.

      • LarryM.,Fl. says:

        If Mitre doesn’t pitch and the score remains 3-0. I know its a big if that Noesi holds the score to 3-0. The next situation is facing their closer who did well.

        Yes, a loss is a loss but why not give yourself a better chance at 3-0 than 5-0, IMHO.

  20. first time lawng time says:

    Hughes kept his team in the game. That’s what matters. Offense could have done something.

  21. Hester Prynne says:

    Joe should have gone to Noesi after he took Phil out. Ayala is awful when the game is close and good when it’s not. Mitre shouldn’t even be on the roster. We need an effective Soriano back and Joe needs to use Noesi more. Noesi had that one bad outing vs the Reds. The other 3 clowns are repeatedly bad.

    • Hester Prynne says:

      And why is Noesi even here if he’s not used to pitch the 4 innings after Phil comes out? Who else is he going to shadow? The other 4 starters are more likely to go deep into the ballgame than Phil right now. He isn’t used in the 7th and isn’t used as a long man. It makes no sense.

  22. Tom Zig says:

    What happened to Phil Hughes’s spike-curveball that he had when he first came up?

    • The Big City of Dreams says:

      Wasn’t there some talk a couple of yrs ago that he changed the grip?

    • CS Yankee says:

      He traded it in for the cutter.

      Think he changed his motion on the curve to make it similar to his other pitches. He needs to commit to the changeup more (so does AJ)…Rothchild pitchers typically throw more changes, so maybe it will happen.

      • Tom Zig says:

        I’d rather he trade it back. At least then he might get more than 1 or 2 swing and misses a game.

        • CS Yankee says:

          Understand, I liked it but batters were picking up his different motion (I heard/read) and hammering it during his first real ride (2008 I believe).

          It seems that Hughes, Nova & Noesi all have good stuff but they all lack that two strike pitch that gets that awkward swing or confused look.

          I wonder if the catchers are calling the youngsters the right one on a throw away pitch (0-2, 1-2) or staying too far out of the zone which gets them to lose the count advantage.

          • Tom Zig says:

            His cutter isn’t really a good pitch though. His 4-seemer has more horizontal break than his cutter. So basically you have a pitch that’s slower than a fastball and it doesn’t move.

  23. Bob Michaels says:

    Nova has to return after the All Star break.Sergio should be DFA.

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