Um, wow. So that happened.
On the list of baseball things I never thought I’d see happen, the Yankees finally beating Felix Hernandez — not to mention dropping six earned runs on the King — for the first time since May 3, 2008 — was probably at the very top. That the final score of the game was 9-3 was merely the cherry on top. At six innings, this was also Felix’s shortest outing against the Yankees since that May 3 game, when he lasted 5 2/3 frames. The only time he’s ever had a worse start against the Yankees was a seven-earned-run, 3.2-inning affair on August 23, 2006, although believe it or not, by WPA, last night (-.445) was not only the worst start he’s ever authored against the Yankees, but his worst start of the season by over .100.
Take all of that in for a sec, savor it, and never let go.
The Yankees got on the board first in the third inning thanks to back-to-back singles by Brett Gardner and Chris Dickerson — who’s had all of 29 at-bats the entire season whose last at-bat came on September 1 — and an RBI groundout by Derek Jeter. Phil Hughes (more on him momentarily) immediately coughed up the lead in the bottom half of the inning on an 0-2 (natch) curveball to Ichiro Suzuki, who laced a single into right field. But that would be all Seattle would get off of Hughes.
The Yankees came right back in the fourth, as Mark Teixeira — one of the few Yankees, along with Robinson Cano, who can actually hit Felix with some regularity — led the inning off with a long solo home run. This was Tex’s fifth career home run off of Felix — the most of any player. Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher followed with a double and single, respectively — marking the first time in who knows how long the Yankees actually got three straight hits off of Felix — and Cano came in to score on a sac fly by Eric Chavez. Brett Gardner then doubled Swisher home, and the icing on the cake came courtesy of Dickerson, who launched a first-pitch two-run bomb into the right field seats, to push the Yankee lead to 6-1 in the span of six hitters.
This was Dickerson’s first home run of the season, and his first since May 17, 2009 (h/t Yankees.com). The fourth inning also represented the first time the King gave up five or more earned runs in an inning since July 22, 2007 at Toronto.
Again. Take all of that in for a sec. Savor it. Never let it go.
The Yankees added three more runs in the 7th after a Cano bases-clearing double, and with a 9-1 lead, Hughes’ day was done after six innings. Scott Proctor came in to throw two innings and give up his contractually obligated two runs courtesy of a Miguel Olivo bomb — seems like this guy hits a home run off the Yankees every time these two teams play, doesn’t it? — and Luis Ayala managed to hold the six-run cushion with a perfect ninth.
Anyway, on to Hughes. There was quite a bit of chatter on Twitter during the game about Hughes, mostly of the negative variety, and while efficiency and putting guys away with two strikes continue to be major aspects of his game he needs to work on, I actually thought he was pretty good in this one. Sure, it’s the Mariners, and you could make the case that anyone could hold them to one run over six innings, but that doesn’t change the fact that it happened, and it’s better than Hughes blowing up and giving up five runs in four innings.
Hughes seems pretty clearly aware of his 0-2 problem, and while the Ichiro pitch wasn’t where it should’ve been, I saw him bury quite a few curves in 0-2 counts, and while most of the Seattle lineup was able to hold off, he did induce three swings-and-misses with the curve. In fact, his 10 total swings-and-misses tied his season-high, and he got six swings-and-misses with his four-seamer, which actually had some impressive late life (he dialed it back up to 93mph on his 96th pitch of the evening) — something that should be somewhat comforting given the concerns over Hughes’ decrease in velocity as he gets deeper into starts. He also eclipsed his seasonal percentages in whiff rate for the four-seamer, curve and cutter, with a 9.2% whiff rate on the four-seamer representing a nice jump from his 5.2% season rate; a 13% curveball whiff rate up from 8.9% on the season; and a 12.5% cutter whiff rate up from 4.7%, although he only threw 8 cutters.
The Seattle hitters did foul Hughes’ four-seamer off 35.4% of the time last night, compared to 25.1% for him on the season, but they only put it in play 13.4% of the time compared to 19.8% on the season. If you want to gripe about anything, Phil’s batted ball percentages weren’t anything to write home about, with only 26.3% ground-ball outs (he’s at 32.5% on the season, which is still quite a bit lower than you’d like), 42.1% fly ball outs (basically right in line with his season average) and a way-too-high 31.6% LD% (23.9% on the season).
The other cool event from this game was Austin Romine,who made his first Major League start at catcher and picked up his first career big league hit in the seventh.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees