Results tagged ‘ Phil Hughes ’
An old problem beset Phil Hughes Saturday – trying to keep balls from going over the fence at Yankee Stadium. The good news is that when Hughes gave up a home run there was no one on base. The bad news is that he gave up three home runs.
This is nothing new with Hughes. Last year, he surrendered 22 long balls at the Stadium, the most at home for any pitcher in the majors and the most in franchise history. Ryan Flaherty, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold did the damage against Hughes Saturday in a 5-3 Orioles victory that ended the Yankees’ four-game winning streak and brought them back to .500 at 5-5.
“Phil is not a sinkerballer; he is going to give up home runs,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Unfortunately, Hughes’ home yard is of the home-run friendly variety, which can make life hard for a fly-ball pitcher. Hughes lasted only two batters into the fourth inning and gave up five runs, nine hits and two walks without a strikeout. He lacked command of his fastball. Rescue attempts using curves, changeups and sliders could not bail out Hughes, who is off to a rough start after a spring training in which he lost time to a back ailment.
“I’m 100 percent healthy now,” Hughes said, not using the back as an excuse. “I have to figure a way to get some outs.”
Outs have come in short supply for Hughes, who is 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA. He has been hit hard, having allowed nine runs (eight earned) and 17 hits in seven innings. Opponents are batting .472 in 36 at-bats against the righthander.
Despite Hughes’ shaky start, the Yankees remained in position to come back in the game. This was due largely to the terrific relief work of David Phelps. The righthander from Notre Dame pitched four scoreless, one-hit innings with six strikeouts. “My curve was better than it has been all year,” he said.
The Yankees continued to slug as in days of old with Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells each taking Orioles starter Jason Hammel deep. Wells also made an outstanding defensive play in left-center in the seventh inning by throwing out Adam Jones trying to stretch a single into a double, the lone hit off Phelps.
With 11 hits, the Yankees did not lack for offense. Few hits were timely, however. The Yanks were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Then again, the Orioles were even worse in that department (0-for-10). The Yankees stranded nine base runners, including those in scoring position in the third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Kevin Youkilis took his first collar (0-for-5), which ended his nine-game hitting streak, the longest at the start of the season for a player in his first year with the Yankees in 68 years.
Robinson Cano, who had two hits, even put in an inning of work at shortstop, the first time he had played somewhere other than second base in his major-league career. With Eduardo Nunez out with a bruised right wrist, Girardi needed another shortstop when he lifted Jayson Nix for pinch hitter Brennan Boesch in the eighth.
Cano moved to short from second with Francisco Cervelli, who has been taking grounders in the infield during batting practice, moving from behind the plate to second base. Neither Cano nor Cervelli was involved in a fielding play in the ninth inning. This kind of alignment could be more common until Derek Jeter returns from the disabled list.
Pitchers seem to be taking aim at Eduardo Nunez this year. Nunez, who is holding down the shortstop position until Derek Jeter can return to the Yankees from the disabled list, was knocked out of a game for the second time in a week after being hit by a pitch in the second inning Friday night by the Orioles’ Miguel Gonzalez.
A week ago Friday, Nunez was plugged in the right biceps by the Tigers’ Doug Fister at Detroit and had to sit out the next two games. This time, it was a fastball to the right wrist that got Nunez on the last type of night (42 degrees at game time) a player wants the ball to hit him, not that any player ever really wants to be hit.
Nunez clearly was in a lot of pain but after being treated behind the plate by trainer Steve Donohue remained in the game, at least briefly. Nunez gave it to the old college try and went to his position at the start of the third inning, but after making one practice throw indicated to the dugout that he could not continue and was replaced by Jayson Nix.
Also under the weather, pardon the pun, Friday night was Andy Pettitte, whose was supposed to start Saturday against the Orioles but was pushed back to Tuesday night or perhaps Wednesday night during the Yankees’ inter-league series against the Diamondbacks. Pettitte is bothered by back spasms. Andy said he felt something in his back in his last start and had some treatment afterward, but the back tightened up during the night Thursday. At this point, the condition does not appear major, just a reminder that the lefthander is 40 years old.
Phil Hughes will start in Pettitte’s place Saturday with Hiroki Kuroda scheduled to start Sunday night’s series finale.
Much of the concern about the 2013 Yankees has centered on the offense, what with the loss of 194 home runs in players gone from the 2012 team and the season-opening injuries to four key position players – Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. What the Yankees were counting on to offset the lineup changes was quality pitching. Yet it is the pitching that has been a main culprit in the club’s 1-4 start.
Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Tigers was the latest example of shabby pitching. The Yankees were hoping for a boost from Phil Hughes, removed from the disabled list and thrust into the rotation over David Phelps, who returned to long relief. Well, Phelps got into the game anyway because Hughes lasted only three batters into the fifth inning and was hit hard – four runs (three earned) and eight hits.
Boone Logan, the Yankees’ lone lefthander in the bullpen, had another troublesome outing against Detroit’s left-handed hitters. Friday, he yielded a three-run home run to Prince Fielder, who was the first batter Logan faced again in the fifth inning Saturday. Logan kept Fielder in the park this time, but a single gave the Detroit first baseman his sixth RBI of the series. Logan gave up an RBI single later in the inning to another left-handed hitter, Andy Dirks.
The Yankees came back from a 5-1 deficit to make it a one-run game by scoring three runs in the sixth. A tiring Max Scherzer walked Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis to start the inning and yielded a single to Travis Hafner that resulted in the righthander’s departure. Al Alburquerque walked Vernon Wells to load the bases, but Brennan Boesch lined into a double play. After another walk, Alburquerque gave up a two-run single to Lyle Overbay.
Just when the Yankees got back into the game, Phelps failed to produce a shut-down inning and allowed two runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Tigers began to pull away again. Joba Chamberlain, whose ERA is a glaring 21.60, was wild (two walks, one wild pitch) in allowing a run in the eighth.
The Tigers finished with 17 hits, including four by Miguel Cabrera and three apiece by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter. It could have been worse for the Yankees, but Detroit had 4-for-15 (.267) with runners in scoring position.
The amount of hits Yankees pitchers have allowed is alarming – 61 in five games, an average of 12.2 knocks per game. Opponents are batting .339 in 180 at-bats against the Yanks. Meanwhile, Yankees hitters are batting only .219 in 160 at-bats. They do have six home runs (Wells got his second of the season Saturday), so the power outage expected has not actually materialized, but the offense has been unable to compensate for the pitching problems. The Yankees have been outscored, 33-17. Detroit relievers have combined for seven scoreless innings against the Yanks the past two games.
Staff ace CC Sabathia gets the opportunity to be a stopper Sunday in the series finale at Comerica Park. One major hurdle, however, is that the Tigers’ scheduled starter is Justin Verlander. It is a dream matchup of former American League Cy Young Award winners, and the pressure is on CC to turn the staff in a positive direction.
As if the Yankees did not have enough injuries at the start of this season, now you can add Hiroki Kuroda. On the surface, the malady seems minimal, a bruised middle finger on his right (throwing) hand. X-rays were negative. It is not broken, but it was sore enough Tuesday night for the pitcher to have trouble gripping the ball and forcing him out of the game after merely 1 1/3 innings, not a good deal for a club already with one of its starters, Phil Hughes, on the disabled list.
Kuroda left with the Yankees trailing, 2-0, on the way to a 7-4 loss to the Red Sox. For the second straight game, a four-run inning by Boston had the Yankees in a deep hole early in the game. Monday, it was the second inning. Wednesday night, it was the third. Adam Warren, the long man who allowed two inherited runners to score that inning, was the best thing the Yankees had going for them Tuesday night.
Long relief is the most thankless job on a pitching staff, but you can be sure managers value a guy who can soak up some innings. Warren did precisely that with 5 1/3 serviceable innings in which he allowed one run against his own record, five hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
“Warren saved our bullpen,” manager Joe Girardi said. “The amount of innings he gave us was crucial.”
Warren, a righthander whom Yankees personnel people have always liked in the same manner of David Phelps, felt he had something to prove. Warren made an emergency start for the Yankees last year and blew a 4-0, first-inning lead in an eventual 14-7 loss to the White Sox in which he gave up six earned runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. He made the Yankees as a long reliever out of spring training this year and is still getting used to the adjustment from being a starting pitcher, which he had been in the minors.
“It was a strange situation,” he said. “In my position now, you don’t expect to have to come into a game Kuroda starts, but in the bullpen you have to be mentally ready because in this game anything can happen.”
Warren just may find himself in his former role if Kuroda is unable to make his next scheduled start, which would be Monday night at Cleveland. Girardi said it was too soon to make that determination, but the Yankees have a history of proceeding with caution regarding injuries, particularly with pitchers. With Hughes scheduled to make a Triple A start Saturday night at Scranton, he would be out of the question to spell Kuroda. Warren just might be that guy.
After all, Warren’s 86-pitch workload Wednesday night was the equivalent of a starter’s output in many cases in today’s game. It pretty much takes him out of the picture for Thursday night’s series finale against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium and the upcoming, three-game weekend series at Detroit.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz handled the Yankees over seven innings, a stretch marred only by a solo home run by Travis Hafner. Vernon Wells created the final score with a three-run homer in the eighth off reliever Alfredo Aceves, one of three hits for the Yanks’ new left fielder. Just the other day, Girardi had said the Yankees would have to score runs in ways other than with home runs, but Wednesday night the blows by Hafner and Wells accounted for all their scoring.
The Yanks got two more hits from Kevin Youkilis, who is off to a good start (.375) and two from Eduardo Nunez, who also got hit with his first error of the season but it did not figure in the scoring.
Did Wednesday’s rainout help or hurt the Yankees?
Well, a little bit of both.
On the positive side, the extra day made Phil Hughes and Boone Logan available if need be in Game 4, which as a potential elimination game is an all-hands-on-deck situation regarding the pitching staff.
On the negative side, the delay means that Game 4 starter CC Sabathia cannot come back in the series if the Yankees somehow push this series to the limit and start Game 7. The only way that would happen would be if Sabathia had a brief outing Thursday, which the Yankees do not want, of course.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter is now looking at perhaps a lengthier recovery period from his broken left ankle. Jeet will undergo surgery Oct. 20 in Charlotte, N.C., by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, who said that the Captain’s recovery is expected to take four to five months, rather than three months, which had been announced initially.
It was speculated that perhaps there was more ligament damage to Jeter, who got hurt in the 12th and final inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series while fielding a ground ball. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that was not the case.
“I believe that Dr. Anderson just put in a more conservative timeframe on it, as it was explained to me,” Cashman said, “So there’s no new information, nothing seen worse than what our team doctor saw. But in terms of the timeframe, I just think he wanted to be more conservative with it. So that’s what we’re going to go with. My understanding is that it’s possible he will be ready earlier than that timeframe, but it is best to at least put out there four, five months as a safer bet.”
The Yankees are still expecting Jeter to be ready by the start of spring training, although the more conservative timeframe could delay him until early March.
The Yankees’ string of quality starts in postseason play came to an abrupt and painful end in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series when Phil Hughes was forced to come out of the game while pitching to his third batter in the fourth inning. It marked the first time in this postseason that a Yankees starter did not pitch into the seventh inning.
Hughes allowed only one run – on a home run by Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young – in three-plus innings, so the ERA of the Yankees’ rotation did not grow much, from 2.33 to 2.68. But the early exit pushed manager Joe Girardi into his bullpen far sooner than he anticipated. The Yankees used four pitches before the fifth inning was completed.
Yankees starters had averaged 7 2/3 innings pitched in the first seven postseason games. Except for the home run, Hughes had pitched fairly well. He walked Andy Dirks, the batter after Young homered, but got ahead 0-2 in the count on Jhonny Peralta before his back acted up. Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild made a visit to the mound and decided they could not entrust so crucial a game to a hurt pitcher.
Eric Chavez, who started at third base over Alex Rodriguez, committed an error in the fifth that proved costly. Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove winner, could not handle a spinning grounder by fleet Quintin Berry on the short hop. Miguel Cabrera made the Yankees pay for the miscue with a double to right-center off David Phelps that made the score 2-0.
Chavez atoned for his boot the next inning with a splendid, back-handed stop of a hot shot by Cabrera with the bases loaded to start an around-the-horn double play that ended the threat. The twin killing illuminated third base coach Gene Lamont’s conservative call to stop Omar Infante at third base on a single by pinch hitter Avisail Garcia preceding the Cabrera at-bat.
Hours before the Presidential debate at Hofstra, Yankees fans had plenty to debate about the team’s lineup for American League Championship Series Game 3 at Detroit’s Comerica Park. No Alex Rodriguez. No Nick Swisher. Eduardo Nunez is playing shortstop. Where do we begin?
Well, the starting point is that the Yankees are down 0-2 in the series with no Derek Jeter, the next three games (they hope; it could be only two) in the other club’s yard and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner on the mound Tuesday night. How’s that for backs against the wall?
Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided that the lack of production from A-Rod and Swish in the postseason needed to be replaced by something different. Brett Gardner, who has had three at-bats since April, was inserted in left field and the leadoff spot with Ichiro Suzuki moving to right field and batting second.
Gardner joins Ichiro and Curtis Granderson to give the Yankees their swiftest outfield, which is important at spacious Comerica and a fly-ball pitcher, Phil Hughes, starting for them. Despite hitting two home runs during the regular season off Verlander, Rodriguez has been struggling big-time right-handing pitching in the postseason, which has resulted in Girardi lifting him for pinch hitters twice and benching him in the final game of the AL Division Series.
Using Eric Chavez at third base allows Girardi to get another left-handed batter, Raul Ibanez, the postseason batting star for the Yankees, in the lineup as the designated hitter. Nunez at short is definitely a gamble. He is a liability on defense, but the Yankees need a boost in offense (they were held scoreless in 21 of 22 innings in the first two games).
Let’s face it; the whole lineup is a gamble. When you are in the situation the Yankees are, rolling the dice is all that is left.
Phil Hughes was certainly to the task for the Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Division Series as the Yankees hoped to close out the first round and have a fresh CC Sabathia to open the AL Championship Series Saturday night at home against the Tigers or the Athletics, who were scheduled later Thursday night in Game 5 of their ALDS.
Hughes gave up one run on a home run to Nate McLouth and not much else. Despite falling behind in the count frequently, Hughes avoided severe danger as the Orioles stranded six runners and were hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position over the first four innings. The three walks Hughes yielded were all to leadoff batters in innings but none came around to haunt him. The righthander struck out eight batters, including the three immediately after McLouth’s homer in the fifth.
Orioles lefthander Joe Saunders kept pace with Hughes. The lefthander won a 13-pitch duel with Derek Jeter in the third by striking him out but was victimized by the Captain three innings later with a leadoff double. After Ichiro Suzuki bunted Jeter to third base, Saunders got ahead 0-2 in the count to Teixeira only to lose him on a base on balls. The Yanks were able to tie the score on a slow groundout to second base by Robinson Cano before righthander Tommy Hunter came in from the bullpen and struck out Alex Rodriguez.
Jeter, still bothered by a bone bruise on the top of his left foot, was the designated hitter and wore a special pad on the top of his shoe as well as his regular ankle guard. It didn’t matter. He kept fouling pitches off the foot throughout the game.
Taking DJ’s place in the field was Jayson Nix, who had a nice game at the plate with a double and a single. He might have had another hit, but McLouth robbed him with a running, jumping catch in left-center that was the front end of a double play as Russell Martin could not get back to first base in time.
Nix was given the benefit of the doubt by official scorer Howie Karpin in the top of the ninth as Jim Thome reached base on a bad-hop single off Nix’s chest. Lew Ford ran for Thome. Well, not quite. Ford got picked off first base by Rafael Soriano. The Yankees could not have asked for a better scenario. What Ford was thinking is anyone’s guess.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had no real surprises in his lineup for Wednesday night’s Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. All the critics who expected Alex Rodriguez to be removed from the 3-hole were probably not satisfied to see him there once again, albeit as the designated hitter rather than at third base.
Even that was not a surprise. Eric Chavez got the start at third basically because he is one of the few Yankees hitters who has good numbers against Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez, who held them to a .196 batting average in two Stadium starts during the regular season. Chavez had 3-for-6 (.500) with one home run and two RBI against Gonzalez.
The argument against Rodriguez batting third can be pretty compelling. He has 1-for-9 (.111) with five strikeouts in the series. Not very good, I grant you. However, he was robbed of an RBI hit in the first inning of Game 1 by second baseman Roberto Andino’s lucky grab of a line drive headed for center field that instead became a double play.
Anyone who recalls the way Girardi flummoxed on a nightly basis about his batting order when A-Rod was on the disabled list in July and August should not be stunned to see him pretty much leave things alone. Girardi has a thing about not stacking his left-handed hitters, which if he bats Robinson Cano third and drops Rodriguez to sixth he would be doing with four consecutive left-handed hitters.
And it is important to note that Cano, Curtis Granderson and switch hitters Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher (both of whom bat left-handed against right-handed pitchers) entered Game 3 a combined 0-for-21 against Gonzalez.
Too much has been made in the press about the situation in 2006 when then Yankees manager Joe Torre dropped Rodriguez into the 8-hole when he was slumping in that year’s ALDS. The situation then had more to do with Torre’s not notifying A-Rod about the move before posting the lineup card, a severe breach of clubhouse etiquette on the manager’s part.
Girardi was not with the Yankees in 2006 (he was managing the Marlins), but his explanation seemed to reflect on that instance.
“I think whenever you move a player, it has a chance not only to affect the player but also the whole team, too,” Girardi said. “There are different things you have to worry about. Sometimes moving one player causes you to move two or three or maybe even four because our lineup is built around somewhat protecting our left-handed hitters from matchups. That’s a concern, too.”
Another Girardi decision that may be a topic of debate among fans is his notifying Phil Hughes that he would be the Game 4 starting pitcher regardless of the outcome of Game 3. There has been speculation in the media that Girard should bring CC Sabathia on short rest to start Game 4 if the Yankees should lose Game 3 and fall behind, 2-1, in the best-of-5 series.
I think Joe is right. Look at it this way. If the Yankees lose Game 3, they would need to win two more games to take the series. So they are going to need Hughes to start one of those games. It is not a good idea to have Andy Pettitte, 40 and not far removed from a broken leg, start Game 5 on short rest. So if you need Hughes to be in the rotation, what difference does it make if it is Game 4 or Game 5? There is no point in putting in Hughes’ mind that he is not capable of winning an important game.
Technically, it was not a save situation for Rafael Soriano in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. The closer was summoned to pitch with the Yankees up by four runs, one more than the qualifying total in one inning for a save. Yet in ways other than technicalities, it was a save situation because the Yankees needed to save their season.
After a debilitating 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays Saturday, the Yankees’ season was on a precipice. With the Orioles having already defeated the Red Sox, the Yankees needed to maintain that lead to remain tied with Baltimore for first place in the American League East. It was a shaky outing for Soriano as the Jays loaded the bases with none out, but a couple of ground balls, one a big double play, later, the Yanks had what they needed, a hard-fought, 9-6 victory to salvage a split of the four-game set against one of the division’s also-rans.
The Yankees showed an abundance of resiliency in coming back from the 5-1 deficit Phil Hughes put them in over a struggling 4 2/3-inning performance. Derek Lowe brought order to the pitching side for the Yankees, who one day after being shut out for six innings by the Toronto bullpen came back to score seven runs with eight hits and three walks in three innings against seven relievers.
And the Yankees did all that damage without a home run. Their lone homer was a solo shot by Eric Chavez (No. 16) in the third inning off starter Henderson Alvarez, who limited the Yankees to two runs over the first six innings. The Yanks got some help with two runs coming on wild pitches, but for the most part they kept the line moving with timely hitting.
Robinson Cano, who got hot on this trip, had three hits – two of them doubles, including a gapper to right-center in the seventh to drive in one of the three runs the Yankees scored that inning to tie the game. Eduardo Nunez, who began that rally with a pinch-hit single, drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly. Derek Jeter added an insurance run with a single, one of his three hits that raised his major-league-leading season hit total to 213.
Cano contributed a well-placed bunt single to a two-run ninth inning. The Blue Jays were employing an over-shift on Cano, who was batting with none out and Alex Rodriguez on first base after a leadoff single. It was a good idea by Cano. I have often wondered why more hitters don’t do this. Take what the defense will give you. The rally-fueling bunt hit preceded a walk to Nick Swisher that loaded the bases and a two-run single by Curtis Granderson, who pushed his season RBI total to 100, which is pretty impressive for a guy hitting .226 (of course, 40 home runs helped him get there).
With six straight multi-hit games, Cano is batting .625 with five doubles and five RBI in 24 at-bats. He hit .343 with 18 doubles and 11 home runs in day games this season. The Yanks’ remaining three games of the season will be at night, at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Orioles will finish up at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., against the Rays, who have won 10 of their past 11 games and are still in the wild-card hunt.
So after 159 games, the Yankees’ season comes down to the final series. A Yankees-Red Sox series usually has dramatic implications, but it will be decidedly one-sided this time.