Early departure for Hughes

On a night when the Yankees lost a pitcher they were counting on to be a major part of their rotation, another starter they envision having a big season could not get through the third inning.

The news that Michael Pineda is toast for 2012 and will have right shoulder arthroscopic surgery May 1 was still fresh when Phil Hughes took the mound Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. That yard had been the sight of some of Hughes’ finest work, especially 6 1/3 hitless innings May 1, 2007 in a game he was forced out of because of a severely strained left hamstring that shelved him for three months.

Hughes had pitched 16 1/3 innings in four starts in Arlington before allowing a run when Adrian Beltre led off the second with his third home run. Hughes got three ground balls after that and a strikeout to start the third before everything started falling apart.

Mitch Moreland, hitting .139 entering the game, singled, and Ian Kinsler doubled. An infield out got a run home before Hughes hit Josh Hamilton with a pitch and gave up two more runs on a single by Beltre and a double by Michael Young. When he hit Nelson Cruz with a pitch to load the bases, Hughes was taken out of the game for Clay Rapada, who got the final out without the Rangers’ adding to their 4-0 lead.

It was not a pretty night for Hughes, whose ERA bloated to 7.88. The Yankees had been excited about Hughes this year after he put up the best statistics among the starters in spring training, but he has not come close to duplicating that (1.56 ERA) in the regular season. With Pineda gone for good this year, the Yankees need the other starters to pick up the slack.

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