Sunday, May 5, 2013

Phil'ed With Good Feelings

A tip of the cap right back at ya.

Phil Hughes has been a conundrum throughout his entire New York Yankees. From can't miss prospect to comparisons to Roger Clemens to injury plagued season to inconsistent to good to bad to good to bad, and so on.

Hughes' year started with a bad omen, a bulging disc in his back that landed him on the 15-day DL. Then his first two starts of the regular season were downright awful. (8 ER, 17 hits in 7 IP) It was especially disappointing considering the improvement Hughes showed in the second half in 2012. Since then, however, Hughes has gotten his game together.

He didn't have a win to show for it, but Hughes kept the Yankees in the game when they faced last season's two Cy Young Award winners, David Price and R.A. Dickey in Hughes' last two starts prior to Saturday. The Yankees rallied to win both games against Tampa Bay and Toronto thanks to Hughes' and the bullpen keeping the games close.

Saturday was all about Hughes in the Yankees 4-2 win against the Oakland A's. The right-hander, who doesn't turn 27 for another month, had his best game of the season. Eight innings of shutout ball and 118 pitches. Hughes' has a bad tendency to usually hit the 100 pitch mark in the 5th or 6th inning. That wasn't the case against the A's as Hughes allowed four hits, walked two, and struck out nine batters for the second straight start.

He got early run support from a pair of unlikely sources - Chris Stewart and Lyle Overbay - who both homered against Hughes' ex-teammate Bartolo Colon. The California native allowed just two runners to reach second base and retired the last 10 men he faced.

Hughes relied heavily on his four-seam fastball, especially in the early going and late in the ball game. 80 of his 118 pitches were fastballs with sliders (16 pitches) and curveballs (13) mixed into the middle innings. He threw just four changeups on the day. Hughes hit 92-95 mph on the radar gun in the early innings and still rang up 91-92 consistently in his final two innings.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau the 19 swings and misses he produced matched Hughes' career high.

Now if only Hughes could bottle up this performance and bring it out to the mound 90% of the time.


The sky is falling - Mariano Rivera allowed an inherited runner to score and gave up a run himself! The Yankees magic man was in a non-save situation since the Yankees had a 4-0 lead and he entered after Shawn Kelley allowed a lead off single to the first batter in the 9th. (Why did Joe Girardi bother to even have Kelley pitch if he was going to pull him for one base runner?) Rivera's ERA jumped to 2.19 after he allowed his third earned run of the season in 12.1 innings pitched.

Overbay's five home runs are his highest total since he hit eight in 2011. The last time he had 500+ at-bats (2010), the first baseman hit 20 home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Stewart has two home runs in 14 games after he just one in 55 games last year.

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