"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


“Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight. I haven’t been doing that much lately.” —Dave Eiland

Welcome back, Phil Hughes.

You wouldn’t know it by the 11-0 final, but last night’s game between the Yankees and Tigers was a pitchers’ duel. Phil Hughes and Edwin Jackson locked horns for six scoreless innings before the Yankees dropped a ten-spot on the Detroit bullpen in the seventh.

Credit the Yankee offense, particularly Robinson Cano, for running deep counts on Jackson all game. Jackson finished the sixth inning having thrown 117 pitches despite having allowed just five men to reach base. With Jackson spent and the game still scoreless entering the seventh, Jim Leyland called on rookie Ryan Perry, a second-year professional who topped out in High-A last year. Perry faced five batters and retired just one, that being Jose Molina, who bunted Nick Swisher (single) and Melky Cabrera (walk) up to set up another key pinch-hitting appearance for Jorge Posada. Posada, who didn’t start for the second straight day due to a sore hamstring, lifted a low fly to left field that Josh Anderson appeared to lose in the Comerica Park lights. The ball skipped past Anderson allowing the gimpy Posada to reach second and both runners to score. After another walk by Perry, Nate Robertson and Brandon Lyon combined to allow seven more Yankees to score. The final blow was a grand slam by Molina that made him the rare player to have a sac bunt and a grand slam in the same inning (it was last done by Sal Bando in 1975, coincidentally also in the seventh inning). The inning went on so long that Angel Berroa, who pinch-ran for Posada, came to bat and singled off Lyon after Molina’s salami. Nick Swisher, who scored twice in that inning and broke out of his slump with two hits and two walks, added the eleventh run with a solo homer off Juan Rincon in the top of the ninth.

Hughes delivers (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)The real story of the night, however, was Hughes, who worked six scoreless innings allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six. Spotting his fastball, which was coming in around 93 miles per hour, and mixing in a deadly, low-70s curve, and his new high-80s cutter, Hughes picked up right where he left off from the eight strong innings he threw against A.J. Burnett and the Blue Jays late last September. With his hair a bit bushier, faint sideburns, and what appeared to be a generally fuller build, Hughes looked and pitched like a more mature pitcher than the one we saw last year despite his still-tender age of 22.

Hughes received no favors from home plate umpire Derryl Cousins, who called several curves that dropped into the strike zone and a couple of fastballs right on the lower right-hand corner balls (included in the latter was ball four of one of Hughes’ two walks), yet he didn’t lose his cool or his confidence. He got into one jam, that coming in the fourth inning. With one out, he hit Miguel Cabrera in the hand. Carlos Guillen then singled and both runners moved up on a groundout. Hughes pitched around the hot-hitting Brandon Inge and got the light-hitting Josh Anderson to ground out to end the threat. He then set the side down in order in the fifth and sixth before his 99-pitch count (inflated by Cousins’ strike zone) and the Yankees’ long top of the seventh ended his night.

Hughes best pitch of the night came on a 0-1 count to Placido Polanco with two out in the bottom of the fifth. It was a curveball that Polanco was convinced was coming right at his head. A look of total fear came over Polanco’s face as he began to bail. The pitch then dropped over the plate for a called strike on the inside corner, knee-high. Sick.

Hughes was followed by Mark Melancon, whom Joe Girardi had warming up before the game became a laugher. Melancon worked a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out Inge in the process. I can’t wait to see Hughes and Melancon team up again.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:44 am

Hughes pitched even better than his line. Cousins really did sort of screw him, although I'm not sure he goes out in the seventh with a ten run lead and 92 pitches either.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:47 am

I agree. I think the ten runs would have iced him regardless. My point was simply that he was more efficient than 99 pitches in six innings suggests.

3 Rich   ~  Apr 29, 2009 2:12 am

That was the Hughes that I was unwilling to include in a package for Santana. His FB had late life, topping out at 94 according to PitchFX, his curve was nasty, and now he has a cutter to give hitters another look. Plus, he was unflappable with runners on base, despite being squeezed by Cousins (that there is such a thing as a "hitters' umpire", btw, is an anathema the idea that there is something approximating an objective strikes zone).

4 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Apr 29, 2009 5:39 am

Hughes was awesome. Surely no way they can send him back down now.. so happy was doing the Tokyo Boogie Woogie all day http://tinyurl.com/d7yevp

5 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 6:48 am

The most exciting thing about yesterday was that while Hughes had a hellacious curve ball, the best breaking pitch of the day was thrown by Melancon to strikeout Inge. I am not sure if Hughes will remain in the bigs after Wang returns, but I sure hope Melancon is here to stay.

6 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 6:52 am

[3] In all fairness to Derryl Cousins, while some of the pitches he didn't call were close, I didn't think many were definitively strikes. What’s more, his strike zone was much better than Jim Joyce’s on Monday. Joyce had such a wide strike zone at times that perhaps it made Cousins look particularly stingy last night.

7 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 7:35 am

The funny thing about a hitter's strike zone, it seems to me, is that it's actually a proper strike zone, where the ump doesn't "give" the pitcher pitches. Usually. The difference last night was Cousins was just plain missing calls on pitches well in the zone. Or so it appeared from hundreds of miles away ...

8 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 7:42 am

Did I mention this was the feel-good win of the season? This was exactly, precisely what the team needed, - and hell, the organization - needed after the debacle in Boston. The Red Sox still have the upper hand with player development, but today there is some hope in Yankee-land (albeit the same hope that has been dashed a few times already but never mind all that!).

The team and the rotation needed someone to pitch a crisp game. CC was close on Monday, but lapses in concentration loom large when they result in three runs. Hughes showed it can be done and that you don't need to be Superman to do it. Hopefully Sabathia relaxes and Joba steps it up, AJ gets back to his earlier form and the Yankee starting pitching starts to deliver on the off-season's promise.

9 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 29, 2009 7:46 am

[8] The next feel good event the Yankees need to see is a sustained improvement in Joba's fastball velocity and command. If he continues to struggle as a 5-inning/4 ERA pitcher, then I could be swayed to the Joba as reliever side (assuming a reliever's workload is more conducive to Joba regaining his stuff).

10 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 29, 2009 7:49 am

The bar uses an applause meter. That is why it is so important that you all come and applaud only for my band, Scrantonicity 2, not Scrantonicity...which I am no longer a part of.

11 Just Fair   ~  Apr 29, 2009 8:03 am

Hughes was great and he did appear more girthy (made up). Now Joba has 4 workable pitches, he simply needs to be more aggresive. I know that the 2 are completely different, but many are alarmed that Joba's mph is down. If Hughes can baffle batters at 93, so can Joba. I don't want to believe the hut is hurt, I like to think he's just confused.

12 The Hawk   ~  Apr 29, 2009 8:05 am

[9] Maybe I'm pessimistic but I think that train has already left the station. Chamberlain seems to be quite ordinary as a starter. When he was in the pen, it was high impact, psychologically. There's nothing intimidating or electric about him right now.

Of course he may have lost it in general; if they put him back in the pen and he can't blow people away, it would be very sad indeed.

13 ny2ca2dc   ~  Apr 29, 2009 8:56 am

What an amazing game. I was flipping out about that curve to Polanco - I did call my wife into the room and make her watch the replay. She wasn't as ecstatic as I was, but pretty impressed.

I'm not concerned with Joba's velocity just yet, he's still building arm strength. I would really like some semblance of command to return to him though. I don't think starter/reliever would make a difference, as it's not that he's losing velo/command over the course of the night - he just hasn't found it yet. Hell, even CC doesn't have his best command yet. Regardless, I would want to see a full season of Joba the starter before talking about sending him to the BP. If Joba's still not right when Wang is ready to come back and Phil is still pitching well, I'd rather send Joba to the minors to get right than the pen.

14 knuckles   ~  Apr 29, 2009 9:13 am

That hook to Polanco was Philthy.
I tried to log on to the Banter to see everyone's reaction but my Comcast connection wasn't having it.
Might have to go check the game thread to relive that one now...

15 Bum Rush   ~  Apr 29, 2009 9:26 am

If I was good with photoshop I'd mock up up a Shepard Fairey version of Hughes and Hope underneath. If these first few weeks means Hughes and Melancon for the rest of the year, sign me up.

16 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:25 am

Given the musical tastes of some Banterers, might I suggest we call our new reliever "Melancony Baby"

oh ... and wasn't Scrantonicity the name of the last album by The Police? Or maybe I'm confusing it with "Scranton Comes Alive" :-)

17 PJ   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:43 am

[16] How about "Sin-CON-icity" for both?

18 PJ   ~  Apr 29, 2009 10:47 am

[0] Oh, I almost forgot...

“Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight. I haven’t been doing that much lately.” - Dave Eiland

Surely his resume doesn't take that long to update...

: )

19 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:22 am

It's pronounced mel-LAN-son

Also, it's Scrantonicity II (not 2), like the corresponding Police song.

20 PJ   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:32 am

[19] I know how his name is pronounced, Cliff...

I was making fun of the Detroit announcers, who butchered that name continuously last night.

21 Bama Yankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:48 am

[16] “Scranton Comes Alive” Nice. Maybe Phil could use a talk box when he has a press conference... ;-)

22 Bama Yankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 11:56 am

[15] Here ya go:


(I've had trouble getting this link to post, so I hope it doesn't show up a dozen times...)

23 zack   ~  Apr 29, 2009 12:04 pm

Doe sit really take such a short amount of time to convince you to return Joba to the pen? Because remember, before the shoulder last year, he DID have that attitude and velocity starting.

Lets be honest, if Joba is hurt, moving him to the pen won't help. If it is mechanical or just building strength, then again, the pen won't help. The Joba we are seeing is not simply because hes starting and therefore suddenly has no command, velocity, or break from the get go. That simply doesn't make sense

24 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 29, 2009 12:44 pm


"Oooh ... baby I love your K"
"Do you 'deal' like I do?"
"All I Wanna Do (Is Retire the Side)"
"Wind of Change-up"

25 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 12:51 pm

I was there for the party in Comerica last night. It was FREEZING. The game-time temperature was 50, dropping to 46 by the 9th inning, but a bitter North wind made it feel a whole lot colder. Amazingly, both Melancon and Veras were performing in shirtsleaves. Even more amazingly, so was Cousins (the first base ump, by constrast, wore a wool face mask and gloves). Perhaps the cold was affecting his vision.

During the 7th inning stretch, we moved from the Mezzanine to behind the Yankee dugout to enjoy the spoils of victory -- premium, wind-insulated seats and half-full bags of peanuts abandoned by disgruntled Tiger fans.

In the Mezzanine, we were surrounded by Tiger fans, who were just a bit irked by our Yankee routing. They did, however, appreciate my call of "even Sheffield could have done better" after Anderson dropped Posada's fly.

We had suffered through Mussina's 16-0 dissaster in Comerica back in 2007, so last night felt like a bit of a payback.

26 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 12:54 pm

Joba's optimum value is probably as a starter, but if Wang gets his stuff back, moving Joba to the pen might be the best way to make room for Hughes.

27 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:03 pm

[2] I was surprised that no one was warming in the Yankee pen when the 7th began. 99 pitches is plenty for a 22-year old, even without a 10-run lead and a 40-minute layoff.

28 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:09 pm

My only moment of disappointment was when Cano struck out to end the 6th. After Matsui trippled and Cano worked the pitch-count up to 117, I was sure that Robbie would capitalize on Jackson's fatigue and knock in the tie-breaker. Of course, the events of the 7th quickly made me forget about the 6th.

29 Bama Yankee   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:17 pm

[24] Good stuff, Diane.

Here's a few more:
"Breaking all the Bats"
"Art of Control"

30 MarkTheShark25   ~  Apr 29, 2009 1:58 pm

Hughes pitched a great game but some credit has to go to Molina for calling such a great game. I don't know why anyone is talking about this, but Molina is a far superior catcher than Jorge Posada when you take offense out of the question. Yankee pitchers when Molina is pitching are 5-3 with a 2.83 ERA, when Jorge is catching they are 5-7 with a 7.99 ERA. That is alarming.

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