A predictably ugly game lived up to its ugliness, as Phil Hughes — who appeared to have even less command though slightly more velocity than he did in first ineffective outing — was battered for six earned runs on seven hits, two walks and zero strikeouts over a measly two innings, and the Red Sox picked up their first victory of the 2011 season, winning 9-6.
Phil’s four-seamer averaged 89.8mph and topped out at 91.9, so he actually did have slightly more pep on it this time around (though according to the PitchFX data he only threw it nine times) — ditto the cutter, which averaged 87.3, up four miles per hour from his first start and much closer to where it needed to be.
However, after a Dustin Pedroia solo shot in the first inning, Hughes may as well have put the ball on a tee in the second, as five more Red Sox runs came around to score. Brooks had Hughes throwing 30 cutters total, worth a very poor 1.7333 linear weights (though not as bad as his cutter was against the Tigers), and while the velocity was there, the control simply wasn’t. Hughes’ cutter’s average H-break was -0.14 inches (last year’s average H-break was -0.54) with a V-break of 7.11 (2010 average V-break of 6.67), which means he was essentially throwing it right down the heart of the plate. Not good.
While the Red Sox were essentially having a parade on the basepaths, it became apparent very quickly that Hughes had nothing, and I didn’t quite understand why Joe Girardi left Hughes in as long as he did. Joe finally did the right thing and inserted Colon into the game to begin the bottom of the 3rd, and to Bartolo’s credit he pitched as well as one could’ve hoped, throwing 4 innings of four-strikeout ball and yielding an unearned run due to a Mark Teixeira error (speaking of Tex, I know he’s had his hot start and all, but he looked downright terrible at the plate this game — hopefully it’s just a minor blip). Had Colon started this game we might’ve been singing a different tune.
Unfortunately a very comebackable 7-6 deficit after six innings became a far less manageable 9-6 gap after the utterly deplorable Boone Logan came in and continued to not be able to retire anyone. I know it’s early, but Logan has been completely incapable of doing his one job — getting lefties out — and it may be time to send Boone and his 13.50 ERA down to think about what he’s done and grab a fresh arm, even if it’s another righty.
It actually wasn’t all bad for the Yankees, who did score six runs in six innings off a very hittable John Lackey (two strikeouts and two walks), which, on a normal day, should be plenty to win. Of course, it’s never a normal day at Fenway Park, and even if Hughes had been on I can only imagine it still would’ve been a classic back-and-forth see-saw slugfest between the two rivals. The Yankee damage was primarily done by Alex Rodriguez, who launched a solo shot over the Monster that tied the game at 6, and who was also on base two other times via a walk and a hit-by-pitch; Robinson Cano, who looks like he may be coming around, as he racked up two big doubles and drove in a couple of runs; and Brett Gardner, who had his best game yet, going 2-2 with two walks, two runs and two runs batted in.
Derek Jeter had a big RBI single, but also grounded into a huge rally-killing double-play in the top of the sixth, stranding a team-high four total runners on the day. Jorge Posada‘s also in a bit of a slump as well, sliding to 0 for his last 14.
Also somewhat noteworthy (hat tip to reader Professor Longnose for pointing this out in the game chat) is that the Yankees, contrary to their usual MO of beating up bullpens, have struggled rather mightily to score runs late in games during their last few contests. In fact, the Yankees somewhat incredibly have not scored a run past the 5th inning since last Sunday. Obviously that’s one of those bizarre aberrations, but it’s still worth pointing out.
And so the Yankees lost another winnable game due to another bad Phil Hughes start, while also enabling the BoSox to pick up their much-needed first victory of the season. For what it’s worth, while Hughes’ start can’t be categorized as anything but a disaster, it’s somewhat encouraging to see that he had more life on his cutter (even if it did get smacked around quite a bit). Hopefully if he continues to get his velocity back the command will return as well, but it’s clear that Phil has quite a bit to work on prior to his next outing.
In any event, this was certainly not the most pleasant way to kick the weekend off, but hopefully the remaining two games will be a bit more favorable to the New York nine.
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