I promised Mike the regular game recap, since he’s out in the Bay Area and was at last night’s game, but he just texted me that his Internet is down and won’t have a post up until midday, so here are my stray observations from last night’s Phil Hughes gem, bullet-point style:
- This was probably the best I’ve ever seen Phil Hughes pitch. We all fondly remember his flirtation with a no-no in Texas in the second Major League start of his career in 2007, which ended with a pulled hamstring after 6 1/3 innings. Last night he was absolutely, utterly, ridiculously dominant in tossing seven no-hit innings. He started a ton of guys off with first pitch strikes, and seemed to run to an 0-2 count on nearly everyone before quickly putting them away. Before the 8th inning, I believe he only went to 3 balls on one one hitter, and that was Daric Barton in the first inning.
- What a change a start makes. After expending 108 pitches to get through five-plus in his first start, Hughes was absolutely cruising last night. One of my biggest concern’s with Phil as a starter has been pitch economy, and while he’s not going to get to the 8th having thrown only 85-90 pitches every outing, last night should be a huge step in the right direction and give him the confidence to blow hitters away.
- Speaking of blowing hitters away, how about that fastball? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Hughes with such pinpoint control and speed. It seemed like every time he needed to get a strike with a fastball he got it. Even the pitches he missed on were perilously close to the strike zone.
- Hughes finally gave up a hit after 7 innings of no-hit ball to Zombie Eric Chavez in the 8th, and even though it was hit fairly hard right back up the middle Hughes still might have been able to make a play on it had he seen where the ball went. Kind of a tough way to lose the no-no, but better that than in in the ninth.
- Hughes had 10 strikeouts!
- Here’s Hughes’ line for the game: 7.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K. The outing brought his season ERA down to to 2.74.
- This wouldn’t have been possible had we not saved Phil Hughes.
- As great as Hughes was, Ben Sheets wasn’t all that bad himself. Aside from the back-to-back triples that got the Yankees on the board, he pretty much had his way with the Yankee offense, tossing six innings of four-hit, two-run ball.
- The problem with only scoring two runs is that once Hughes came out there was a chance the bullpen could vulture the win. Thankfully Joba Chamberlain pitched into and out of trouble in the eighth. Mariano seemed to labor a bit in collecting his three outs in the ninth, but he was able to lock it down, picking up his sixth save and securing the Yanks’ sixth straight victory.
- The offense outside of A-Rod and Robinson Cano for the most part was actually fairly wretched in this game. Derek Jeter seems to have little interest in working counts this year and annoyingly swung at the first pitch in more than one at-bat, and also continued to ground out at an alarmingly high rate. Although he did work his second walk of the season! Brett Gardner actually picked up a huge two-out insurance RBI base hit in the ninth, so good on him.
- Both Big Tex and Nick the Walk continue to struggle, at least hitting-wise. Tex went 0-4 and looked pretty lousy in all four trips to the plate. NJ at least picked two more walks up for his troubles, and hit a couple of balls somewhat deep to the outfield but unfortunately right at outfielders. Of course, their BABIPs continue to remain unsustainably low, at .185 for Johnson and .135 for Teixeira (second-lowest in all of baseball!), so we know a correction is coming.
- The Yankees won their fifth straight series to open the season, which matches the team’s 1926 franchise record.
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