Friday, August 3, 2012

Hughes comes through for Yankees again

Despite all the haters out there, nobody is harder on Phil Hughes than Hughes himself.

If I hadn’t seen Wednesday’s game, I would have thought that he had gotten smacked around Yankee Stadium from the way he evaluated his performance in his post-game interview. The old Hughes might have been in for a rough day if, as Phil said, he didn’t have his best stuff. But the new and vastly improved Hughes managed to get out of several jams en route to pitching six-innings of one-run ball in a game that the New York Yankees desperately needed to win to preserve their sanity and that of their fans.

Hughes got a more positive review from his manager Joe Girardi, who thought his pitcher did a good job of managing innings and minimizing the threat with runners on base. Girardi is obviously willing to criticize one of his players, as he chastised Ivan Nova for his dreadful performance and loss of focus on Tuesday evening. The Yankees manager seem thrilled that Hughes did what Nova could not, get past the feeling that his stuff was not up to par and pitch a good game when his team staked him to a sizeable lead.

How ironic is it that Hughes, despite all his struggles and the calls to trade him away, is the one keeping the Yankees afloat during this rough stretch? The Yankees have won two games during the current home stand, both of which Hughes started. He lost a tough luck game to a hot Oakland A’s team despite a strong outing the week before. But this week he managed to do what the Yankees’ top starters CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda could not: beat a division rival, two times no less. Hughes should give himself a little credit for that. But he won’t.

Hughes’ performance against the Baltimore Orioles was overshadowed in the news by the offensive outburst of the Yankees and the long-awaited return of Joba Chamberlain. But I’m sure his teammates appreciated his effort. 

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