Hughes rocked as four-game winning streak comes to an end

Saturday Night Open Thread
Sanchez homers twice in Tampa win

The first winning streak of the new season has come to an end, as the Orioles beat the Yankees in a mostly forgettable Saturday matinee. Unlike Friday night, there were no catastrophic dropped fly balls by Adam Jones or triple plays turned by all four infielders, it was a rather generic 5-3 loss.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Phooling No One
The Orioles pounded Phil Hughes and there was no silver lining at all. He faced 19 hitters and allowed three doubles, three homers, three singles (one off the wall), and two walks (both on four pitches). Fourteen of the 19 hitters did see a first pitch strike, but only one of his 60 pitches generated a swing and a miss (1.7%). That’s awful. Hughes had nothing working and the Baltimore hitters did a good job of making sure everyone knew. He was throwing batting practice.

At this time last year I was practically begging the Yankees to pull Phil from the rotation and stick him back in the bullpen, but they didn’t listen and were rewarded with the strong final 20-something starts to end the season. I’ve learned my lesson and won’t demand Hughes to be taken out of the rotation, but the team is in a more dire situation and can’t really wait around forever for him to figure it out. The division race figures to be very tight and every game is too important. I know he had the back trouble in camp and everything, but Phil is going to have to show some improvement and soon. These first two starts won’t cut it.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Bailed Out
David Phelps did an excellent job of cleaning up Hughes’ mess in the fourth — inherited a runner on second with no outs, then escaped the inning with a grounder and two strikeouts — before throwing three more scoreless innings of his own to keep the Yankees in the game. He allowed two base runners (hit-by-pitch and a single, and the runner was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double) and struck out six in the four innings of work. Thirty-seven of his 55 pitches were strikes, including six swings and misses (10.9%). Couldn’t ask for much more from your long reliever.

Joba Chamberlain (one single) and David Robertson (retired all three men he faced) each tossed a scoreless inning to further give the Yankees a chance to mount a comeback. All told, the bullpen allowed just three base runners (hit batsman and two singles) with no walks and seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Rock solid and exactly what the team needed.

Not Enough Offense
The Yankees actually had more opportunities to score than I realized. A Travis Hafner solo homer and a Lyle Overbay bloop single — scoring Frankie Cervelli, who was on second base following an Orioles error — led to two runs in the second before Vernon Wells hit a solo homer in the sixth. That was New York’s three runs right there.

In their other seven innings, the Yankees put seven men on-base and stranded runners in scoring position in the third (runner on second, one out), fourth (first and second, one out), seventh (runner on second, two outs), and eighth (first and second, two outs). Their best opportunity came in the eighth, when pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch struck out against Darren O’Day while representing the go-ahead run with two outs. They had some chances but couldn’t capitalize. So it goes.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
It wasn’t nearly as fun as Jorge Posada playing second base a few years ago, but Robinson Cano spent the ninth inning at shortstop after Jayson Nix was lifted for the pinch-hitter one inning earlier. It was the first time he played any position other than second base as a big leaguer and his first time playing short since 2003, when he was in Double-A. Robbie didn’t have to make any defensive plays, nor did Cervelli, who moved from catcher to second base for that one inning. That would have been fun.

Hughes allowed one run in the second inning and escaped further damage thanks to a great relay play from Ichiro Suzuki and Cano, who made a pair of quick throws to get Nate McLouth at the plate by a good ten feet for the third out. I don’t know if the third base coach sent him home of if McLouth blew through the stop sign, but it was an awful decision given how terrible Hughes was pitching.

Cano stayed hot with a single and double, and he’s now 11-for-19 (.579) with four doubles and three homers since the start of the Indians series. He’s en fuego. Wells (homer and single), Cervelli (two singles), and Overbay (two singles) all had multiple hits as well. Brett Gardner had a drag bunt single and for the first time as a Yankee, Kevin Youkilis was held hitless. Took ten games for that to happen.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Rubber game on Sunday night, the ESPN game, when Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against Wei-Yin Chen. Kuroda had an abbreviated first start due to the line drive off his fingertips and he had the really battle through 5+ innings in his second start, so hopefully he’ll shake off any lingering effects and get back to being the guy we saw for most of last season. Check out RAB Tickets for last-minute ticket deals.

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Saturday Night Open Thread
Sanchez homers twice in Tampa win
  • forensic

    Hughes allowed one run in the second inning and escaped further damage thanks to a great relay play from Ichiro Suzuki and Cano, who made a pair of quick throws to get Nate McLouth at the plate by a good ten feet for the third out.

    He also escaped further damage in the first inning thanks to an absurd bunt called by Showalter on the 2nd batter of the game.

  • BeanTooth

    The way Hughes is pitching this season, the Yanks may be able to afford him next year after all.

    • ClusterDuck

      “The way Hughes is pitching this season,…”

      This season?

      Two starts?

      Sure.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Agreed. His mediocre xFIP and SIERA in 2012 made him affordable anyways.

  • howyadoin

    As this is essentially Hughes’s ST, I don’t think we should make any judgments about his performance thus far. That’s not an endorsement in any way, but still.

  • Eddard

    Yeah, I really think people are jumping the gun on Hughes(2 stars) and Nova(1 start). Hughes didn’t have spring training. He had a minor league rehab and then it was into the rigors of the AL East.

    I don’t think Philbert is that great of a pitcher and I firmly believe that if Phelps were given the chance he’d be better. But it’s only been two starts and Phil has shown he is capable of being a back end starter. It’s not what he was projected to be but I think it’s time to face the fact that Phil will never been anything more than a #4 starter.

    • JLC 776

      I’m terrified to admit this, but I completely agree with you.

      I don’t think Hughes will ever be the ace he was hyped to be, but I sincerely think the guy can be a solid back of the rotation type – and frankly we need one of those just as much as a number one.

      The guy’s overall career arc, when the injuries are factored in, has been quite positive. Give him a break and let’s not crucify him until the weather at least gets hot.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Didn’t get to see the game (these fucking 4:00 non-national games will be the death of me), but when I’m looking at the box score and seeing runs allowed in every inning 1-4, that’s a pretty good indication someone wasn’t anywhere near his game on that day. That’s consistent sucking inning to inning. I continue to be underwhelmed by Hughes.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Only got to listen to the 9th on the radio and am watching some of the encore right now.

    Not much to say about Hughes. I have no clue what I’m seeing. He may be in the rotation right now because of need and the team wanting him to rehab in the rotation. The problem with that is that “MLB Rehab” Hughes doesn’t look very different from “Bad Hughes,” so we could just as easily be confusing one with the other.

    Like Mike said, though, April 2012 Hughes felt even worse to me (not looking at stats there), and we got some damn good baseball out of him afterwards, so I’ll continue to exercise patience.

    Phelps was certainly a silver lining, pitching-wise. I’m not one of these “the starting pitching will carry us” commenters. The starting pitching looks good as long as it’s healthy and as along as enough of the question marks break right for the team. Everyone is going to have to do their part this season on this team.

    It was a loss. Whatever. I’d like to see a bit more than the “tread water until the regulars come back” from these guys, but .500 or slightly above would be better than what teams comprised of actual full-time Yankees have done in April in recent years.

    What was up with Joe pinch-hitting for Nix, then having that ridiculous defensive alignment in the ninth? Nix is no automatic world-beater, but he would have been perfectly as capable of doing what was needed to keep the inning alive. Very strange move to me.

    So I’ve watched 2 1/3 innings and listened to one? Am I enough of a fan today?

    • forensic

      Nix is a horrible hitter as is Boesch. But facing a pitcher who is terrific against righties, you take your chances with the lefty instead. Plus, he has a slightly better chance to go deep than Nix.

      It’s just unfortunate that Boesch is their best PH option right now.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        My point was that it wasn’t worth all the defensive switches he had to make that inning. I have zero issue with Nix as Option C.

        • forensic

          Ok, but if it’s not worth it at that point, with 2 on and 2 out, down by 2 in the 8th against a righty who kills righties, trying to avoid their closer the next inning, then when is it worth it? After the PH, he has no choice but to make those defensive switches.

          Cervelli has played 2B before (mostly awhile ago), even as recently as 2011 in the majors, plus 3B in 4 games in 2011 and 2010. He still takes grounders around the infield and Cano’s arm just seems to make more sense at SS than Cervelli’s.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Knowing you’d have to go into the ninth inning with all those players out of position and, potentially, a tie or lead, hell no I wouldn’t have pinch hit Boesch there.

            • forensic

              Ok, to each their own.

              But it’s only 2 players out of position (and at positions they’ve played in the past) and sticking with Nix against O’Day just feels almost like a give up to me. Much rather have them out of position and possibly be tied or ahead than almost just giving up to avoid 1 inning (maybe more if extra innings) of 2 guys out of position.

            • Eddard

              You have to get the game tied or take the lead, first. Then you worry about the defense. So the question is what is your best chance to tie the game or take the lead? It was clearly Boesch. I’m sure Girardi would have jumped at the chance of tying the game there instead of being down 2 runs with one inning to play, even if he had to play Cervelli at 2nd and Cano at SS.

              It’s kind of why we always say, use the closer on the road in a tie game in the 9th to prolong the game, but managers often think like you are, well what if I get the lead who will close? What if you put a lesser pitcher in there and he gives up the game winner? Prolong the game, then worry about who will be the next pitcher or the next SS.

            • Manny’s BanWagon

              What was up with Joe pinch-hitting for Nix, then having that ridiculous defensive alignment in the ninth?

              Boesch was a much better choice to bat against the righty than Nix was in the 8th inning.

              These guys are professional athletes and have been on a baseball field since they were probably 5 years old. I don’t understand why people think the world will spin off it’s axis if a couple of guys play somewhere other than their standard defensive position for an inning or 2. I applaud Girardi for thinking outside of the box and not being a slave to convention.

    • Eddard

      Have you seen Nix hit this year? Verlander was stupid enough to throw him a change instead of blow him away with fastballs and that was the extent of Nix’s production this year. Boesch had a better chance there than Nix. Hell, Girardi had a better chance there than Nix.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        It’s an act, RT. It’s an act.

        • Tom

          Nix is terrible, especially against righties. Eddard may say some wacky stuff at times but he is dead on…

          Nix against righties (career):
          .610 OPS, wRC+ 62
          That’s not all that better than Chris Stewart level

          Boesch was absolutely a better option in that situation. It’s an act because you don’t agree with it?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Yes. Happy?

            You had your second baseman playing short and your catcher playing second. Take your chances on Nix.

            Neither one us are receiving phone calls to manage a team anytime soon.

            • Tom

              Too funny….

              You do realize that YOU were the one that questioned Girardi not me. (in case you hadn’t notice I was the one who agreed with the guy who is the manager of the Yankees)

              When you botch the analysis/statistics, why can’t you just own your mistake?

    • toad

      I think it was sensible. You need some runs and don’t have much time, so take whatever improved odds you can get.

      There’s a strong chance the defensive switch won’t make any difference at all, especially with Robertson pitching the ninth.

  • Caballo Sin Nombre

    Pee Yoos lived down to his name.

  • Tmoney

    Phelps allowed 2 base runners. He plunked Flaherty in teh big toe.

  • http://Twitter.com/nebkreb Nebkreb

    Just FYI: on the McLouth play at the plate, he slowed up a bit going in to third base, and the coach sort of did nothing. Didn’t hold him up or wave him home. McLouth tried to turn it back on as he turned the base but Cano’s relay beat him home by 10 feet.

  • Joe

    Any chance gattis or mcann become trade targets?

  • dkidd

    you know who we could use right now?

    ramiro (1.091 ops) pena

    #worldgonemad

  • OldYanksFan

    For get about 2013 Hughes… but we can look at Career Hughes.
    His 99 ERA+ is based on a 4.41 ERA.
    However, his ERA as a STARTER is 4.70, so I’ll guestimate that his ERA+ as a STARTER is around 94-95.

    His ERA is a full 1/2 run better on the Road.
    He has given up TWICE as many HRs at Home as on the Road.

    He has almost 600IP as a Starter (NOT SSSS)

    I just don’t think he’s ‘built’ for the Yankees. I would not surprise me if he could be a decent #3 in a large NL ballpark.

    It’s a weak FA class next year. Phil will get overpaid.

    We need every asset we have for this year, but the truth is, looking to the future, we should trade him this year and see if we can get a decent Prospect in return.

    He has posted 6.9 WAR in 6 seasons (including injuries)
    He is currently making $7.1m.

    • Chilango

      Hughes has pretty much demonstrated it’s a crapshoot whenever he starts. He’s basically a two pitch pitcher with control problems. Although last year at Yankee stadium his numbers were 99.1 IP, 41 ER 22 HR 26 BB, 3.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .238 BAA. Not as bad as one might think. Not worth 7 mil though.

    • trr

      I don’t think this will happen, but if we can get a decent prospect in return, I’d certainly endorse it

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Looks like all the action occurred in the open thread.

  • Mike

    Wish I could explain away Hughes’ performance due to injury again.

  • OldYanksFan

    From Lohud:
    • Alex Rodriguez showed up today. Girardi said pregame that he wasn’t expecting Rodriguez, but there he was, sitting in the dugout. “I haven’t seen him since last home stand,” Girardi said. “He said that he’s doing more and more each day. Although it was slow, he actually got on a treadmill the other day and he was pretty fired up about that.”

  • Jenny

    Ooof.

    The ARod scandal made the front page of the Times.

    http://webmedia.newseum.org/ne.....NY_NYT.jpg

    I thought it would be the sports section, but no, placing on Page 1, above the fold ups the ante.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Should have seen the Sunday front page a couple of weeks ago.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    tbh: seeing Hughes getting hammered (once again) never gets old, I just can’t stand that guy. Too bad he’s playing for the Yanks :/

    • Bavarian Yankee

      just read Hughes’ comment: “can’t remember the last time I was as bad as that”

      Really? Unfortunately everybody else can. Is it really that easy to forget his start from last week?

  • Yogiism

    Some people defending Phil on here and others making the point that he’ll be a decent to good pitcher elsewhere, likely in of the NL divisions. I have to agree that I just do not think Phil is the right pitcher for the Yanks and quite frankly, they will not make him a qualifying offer after the season so I could definitely see the Yanks trading him at this point. Maybe not now, but I could see him being moved in the next month or so, that is, if he doesn’t kill any remaining value his has in that period. Teams like the Angels need arms right now, but they have nothing to trade for. We’ll see how things take shape, but I expect Phil and maybe even Nova, to be on the move in the coming weeks/months. Hopefully Pineda progresses well and the Yanks can plug him and Phelps in the back of the rotation with Warren at their depth.

    • JRod

      You can never assess a trade until you know what you can get back, but I agree. Give him 4 or 5 more starts to show something, and then try to deal him to the NL. I sort of doubt they’ll do it, but it might be surprising what we can get back. Hughes has been the most frustrating Yankee in awhile.