"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Aw, Ph***…

I remember watching Phil Hughes’ great, painfully cut-short start against Texas three years ago*, and thinking it was the most depressing 10-1 Yankees win I’d ever seen. Last night’s game was not nearly such a bummer: Hughes pitched the best game of his career, took his no-hitter into the eighth and was finally derailed by a comebacker bouncing off his glove, not by a key muscle making an unhappy popping noise. The Yankees won 3-1, and the Phenom/Phranchise nicknames would seem to be back in business.

Hughes walked Daric Barton on four pitches in the first inning, but put away the next 20 A’s he faced, 10 by strikeout, a career high. He got himself all the way into the eight inning with no hits and barely any drama – none of those dazzling close plays that Sabathia got in his no-hit innings of a few weeks ago. Everything was moving in exactly the way you’d want it to move, and while I don’t think his fastball topped 92 or 93 mph, that’s evidently plenty fast enough.

The Yankees scraped a pair of runs together in the fourth, when Alex Rodriguez tripled, and made it look like such a good idea that Robinson Cano decided to do the same immediately afterwards, later scoring on Posada’s groundout. Meanwhile, Hughes was being ostentatiously ignored in the dugout until the eighth, where with his pitch count still quite low and mostly made of strikes, he promptly allowed a hit to Eric Chavez. Well, kind of – the ball hit off Hughes’ arm and glove, and while he wasn’t hurt (PHEW… hey, can that be Hughes’ new nickname?), he also couldn’t find the ball for a few very long seconds. He regained his composure but as he reached 100 pitches with several runners on base, Girardi brought in Joba Chamberlain; one run scored before the Yanks could turn the game over to Mariano, who made things slightly more interesting that was strictly necessary in the ninth but, as usual, remained in control.

Pre-Mo, the Yankees got an ultimately unneeded but reassuring insurance run when Brett Gardner dunked a single into left to score Curtis Granderson (who, in case you were wondering, has been adjusting just fine to NYC off the field, too). Ken Singleton had just been saying, as Gardner faced a 3-1 count, “one more ball out of the zone and Jeter will come to the plate,” and I was thinking, hey, there is a chance Gardner will actually get a hit, you know. (I watched the Mets-Cubs game earlier in the evening and let me tell you, there is nothing like it to make you appreciate the Yankees’ lineup. The Cubs happened to win tonight with plenty of offense, but then they were facing Oliver Perez, and Lou Piniella still spent most of the game looking like he was watching someone strangle a koala… or, perhaps, like he would like to strangle a koala himself).

Anyway, as much as we all wanted to see a little history, it seems ridiculous to call this game disappointing. Hughes’ no-hitter interruptus didn’t bother me much, because it was just beautiful to see him pitch so well… and then to be available again in five days.

Now excuse while I go knock on all the wood within a mile radius.

*Holy crap, was that really three years ago?

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Emma Span

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1 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 7:47 am

[0]it was just beautiful to see him pitch so well… and then to be available again in five days.

Yeah, but if was in the 'pen, we could see him pitch every day.

2 RIYank   ~  Apr 22, 2010 7:57 am

[1] Yeah, but just to one batter.

3 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:12 am

sweet recap emma!

4 Yankee Mama   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:13 am

Great recap.

Phew Hughes was so enjoyable to watch. The word that comes into mind is comand. i was also jonesing on his mojo, thinking I want me some of that. He was operating with a lot of confidence.

This west coast games kill me, but I persist.

Mo occasionally does one of those, "Don't even think about shutting off the tv. I don't care how tired you are. I'm going to make this interesting, albeit, scary."

5 rbj   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:20 am

Phil Hughes = Phew Hills!

Can't stay up for the whole west coast games (and have to watch South Park) but I don't remember the last time I saw back-to-back triples. 5 straight series wins to start the season. Very density.

6 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:27 am

4) You stay up? That's amazing. Oh, and I got THE RISK POOL by Richard Russo and started it and can see what the fuss is about. He's just a very good writer.

7 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:39 am

[4] Love the West Coast games from this end, 11am start is perfect. Philthy Phew Phranchise was awesome (even if it was only the A's..)

Such a good performance I had to bust out some Sossego Funk..

G'nite Banterites...

8 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:39 am
9 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:40 am
10 dogsurfdog   ~  Apr 22, 2010 8:59 am

[6] Saw the Russo conversation a few days ago but didn't jump in. Glad I got another chance!

I'm a big fan of his, as is my dad. Risk Pool is his (Dad's) favorite, but I have to say my favorite Richard Russo book is Straight Man--maybe just because it's the first one I read, maybe it's that the main character is a college professor instead of the slacker-type protagonist that he usually writes about, which makes it a little unique. It's a good story and at times laugh-out-loud funny. But I'd recommend just about all of them.

11 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:08 am

So much to like about Hughes performance. He did almost all his work w/ the 4 seamer and the cutter. Where were all those long counts filled with foul balls and errant fastballs? Better velocity, even by a few MPH, plus better location, and the results were swings and misses and weak contact.

I thought he had a good chance to get it done because he still had a pretty good curve ball to mix in there for the home stretch if needed. I saw how amazing he looked in the first and said to myself, i'll go to bed when he lets up a hit.

12 Dimelo   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:17 am

[0] Great job, Emma.

I was forced to listen to the game via my cell phone MLB app, unfortunately. Must have been awesome to watch. One of the things I hate most about traveling is how I must rely on hotel internet to connect to my slingbox - which sucked big papi balls last night.

13 The Hawk   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:35 am

It was fun to watch but at the same time I sort of wish he had given up a hit earlier, if he was gonna give up a hit. I'm tired.

14 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:35 am

Does Joba get a fresh box of business cards now that he's been given the official title: 8th Inning Specialist?

I agree it will be frustrating to see him assigned just one inning of work at a time (I'd rather see him work longer stints, even if less frequently) , but I'm glad he at least has a defined role - and it's probably the best job they can give the kid right now. Ask Chan Ho Park, Aceves, and Robertson if they'd like a more solidified role.

Joba hit 97mph on the gun last night, which tells me he's adjusting well to the fact that he's stuck in a cubicle, while that other kid, Hughes is furnishing his new office on Starter's Row (which ends at Mo's luxuriously appointed corner suite).

Best thing is, and we have to keep reminding ourselves of this: Joba is 24, and Hughes won't be for another few months.

15 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:40 am

The most stunning thing to me was learning that the Texas game was three years ago.

I feel old

16 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:46 am

[14] I can't even be frustrated by Joba's situation anymore. The Yankees ruined him. Its in the past. Lets just hope he can be the best damned short reliever he can be.

17 ms october   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:46 am

sounds like a great game i missed. i haven't even put on the games the last 2 nights as i knew i would get sucked in and stay up too late.

[12] haha - big papi is the gift that keeps on giving.

that is hard to believe that texas games was 3 years ago.

[14] i think so. knowing the yankees they got tired of joba writing "8th inning specialist" in pencil on his cards.
girardi said he was back to his happy self in the 8th. i just hope he is not doomed to the pen forever and can take javy or andy's place next year. but whatever on that for now.

18 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:52 am

[16] come on, he's not ruined.
[17] one of those offices will be his if he wants it.

19 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:55 am

[18] I don't think he's ever going to be an effective starter. I think the silliness of 3 inning starts and keeping the date of his next start secret and all that other BS screwed him up.

20 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Apr 22, 2010 9:58 am

[11] "i’ll go to bed when he lets up a hit." That's exactly what I was saying to myself (and to my wife). I stayed up for the whole thing (with some DVR fast forwarding).

Oh,and, Emma, the YES gun had Hughes at 94 all night.

21 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:11 am

[14] 8th Inning Specialist

Not to be pedantic, but I believe the formal term is "eighth inning guy".

[19] We'll see next season if he is "ruined" or not. Or more accurately, we will see if the organization is still committed to using him as a starter. If so, he will "win" some bogus "competition" during spring and then be given a spot in the rotation with the full blessing of the coaches, etc etc blah blah blah. At that point, it will be his to sink or swim.

Or, they have given up on him as well and he will be the "eighth inning guy." In this case, I greatly suspect he will be traded.

22 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:14 am

New contributor...reader for two years. May I participate in Bronx Banter?

23 The Hawk   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:14 am

I feel compelled to say, once again, that I thought all along Joba was closer material, but once they got as far as they did with his "development" as a starter, they ought to have let him start this season. And actually if he can't consistently blow people away like he once did as a reliever (jury is out on that), they should REALLY make sure he can't be an effective starter.

It's funny how being in the pen is credited with Hughes' new "eye of the tiger" as a starter, but it didn't quite work out that way for ol' Joba.

24 ms october   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:17 am

[22] welcome!

i obviously am partaking of this but joba and phil really actually shouldn't be joined at the hip when we think of one or the other.

25 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:18 am


Yes .... just send $69.95 to the following PayPal account . . . :-)

Welcome aboard!

26 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:19 am


But what a circus act THAT could be!

"See the Incredible JobaHughes, the four-legged pitcher"

27 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:20 am

[21] If he throws 60 innings out of the bullpen this year, would he be on an innings limit next year as a starter?

28 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:20 am

[21] i doubt it. If they decide that he is best used in the bullpen he will be the heir apparent to Mo whenever he decides to hang them up. Now, the trade option will become more likely if Mo just keeps going and going and going and going...

29 Jon DeRosa   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:21 am

[20] Yep, because when he finally let up a hit, all of a sudden the outcome was in doubt - we had to see how it turned out.

I thought Sheets looked good - that big curve ball is always looks like a tricky pitch to hit. For 11 million, I would have been a "Sheets + keep Vizcaino" guy in the offseason, rather than a "Javy - Vizcaino" guy, but that was when I thought Joba was going to start.

Now I see they really are counting on Javy's 200 ip, which will be a big question mark w/ Sheets.

30 ms october   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:22 am

[26] especially with the height difference.
with cc, aj, phil, and andy the yanks must have about the tallest starting rotation.

31 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:23 am

[27] he has over 8 IP so far this year which puts him on pace for 80-90 IP, not 60 IP. So keep that in mind.

32 Sliced Bread   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:26 am

[24] I agree, but it's hard not to think of them together, especially when they pitch in the same game. When they work on separate nights I don't think they'll get as much twin treatment in our discussions.

33 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:36 am

[27] I don't know. The organization seems to be flexible with innings limits, inasmuch as Hughes' limit is higher this year (I've read it's around 170 this year because he had pitched around 145 in 2006). Since Joba threw about 160 INN last year, I imagine that he would be given at least that many innings in 2011. But that's just a guess.

[28] You may be right, but if the team tries to develop an "heir apparent" to Mo, that would be a silly policy. In any case, what I meant is that if they give up on him as a starter they will entertain trade offers for him because as a reliever---even a star reliever---he will not have as much value to the team. I highly suspect that another organization with a better track record at developing pitchers would be will to take a chance on Joba, hoping to convert back to a starter. The Yankees will in that case certainly look carefully at offers.

So I will stick with my prediction: he is either in the rotation next season, or he will be traded.

My other prediction: there will be no heir apparent to Mo. When he retires, the Yankees will pay somewhat too much for a known quantity, free agent closer.

34 RIYank   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:38 am

[8] [9] My reaction was more visceral and less intellectual than that, but, in a word, yes.

[22] You're on probation until the Vote of the Elders, needless to say.

35 Diane Firstman   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:41 am


How about "Phughes"

36 rbj   ~  Apr 22, 2010 10:46 am

[22] Welcome.
[25] It's actually $89.95, and the paypal account is. . .

37 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:00 am

[24], [36] Thanks!
[25] What's PayPal?
[34] I respectively await the approval of the seniors (I'm older too, but isn't 50 the new 30?).

Imagine how the vibe would have changed if Joba gave up one more hit and vultured Phil's win. Right now the starting pitching is all we could have hoped for (god willing), and Joba seems to thrive on adrenalin fueled situation. It's blue skies for the pitching right now...does Phil move up to #4 in the rotation?

38 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:12 am

[37] i bet he does bump up when we get to the post-season. Obviously, that doesn't matter much now since the rotation is already on a schedule. And I certainly would expect that we wait more than two starts before bumping him past anyone.

On another note, he also has an innings limit that they should watch for. The difficult thing with Joba last year was that he was on an innings limit but his pitches per inning were through the roof. This started early in the year before his development was adjusted at all. Of course, they wanted him to go 5 innings but they couldn't do that without pushing his pitch counts up quickly. I think he developed a tired arm and never really recovered last year. I also think the Yankees had a pretty good plan for him but his constant nibbling and inability to get hitters out kind of made it impossible for him to be effective.

39 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:13 am

[37] oh, and welcome to the banter! Always good to hear more opinions here.

40 Mattpat11   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:15 am

[33] Does that mean that as Hughes and Chamberlain approach whatever that magic number might be, we're going to go through the same circus we got with Joba last year?

41 RIYank   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:22 am

[38] I think the innings limit is the key.
Order of the rotation is very unimportant until post-season. Since the fifth starter will be skipped a few times, Hughes almost has to stay in that position. But in short order we'll all know that he's the fourth, or even... (glances around to make sure Weeping is not around) ... higher.

42 RIYank   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:24 am

[41] Uh.
Now that I think about it, the question of who gets skipped when, e.g. there's an off day, rain-out, etc., is in some sense independent of who's the fifth starter. The real point is that they will skip Hughes when there's an opportunity to skip somebody.

43 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:33 am

[40] Again, who knows---presumably it depends on how the magic number is. If it's 180 or 185 (25-30 more than Joba's previous high last year), there will be no need for a circus at all. As a fifth starter he can skipped a couple of times at the beginning of the year (as has Hughes this season), make 30 starts at 6 INN/per start with no convoluted planning at all.

The circus last year was produced largely by circumstance: his very low magic number (around 150 INN) and that he ended up more or less as the #4 starter once Wang went down and Hughes was designated to secure the all important penultimate inning, leaving Lucky and Gaudin to duke it out in the #5 slot. That and poor planning, of course.

Though in any case, I am skeptical of your proposition that he was "ruined" by the circus last year. He was pitching more or less effectively, albeit not efficiently, into August. Then he had a series of very poor starts on August 6, 11, 16, and 25---all while he was still on a relatively high pitch limit and before the real circus began on August 30 (when his pitch counts were cut way down and he was limited to three inning "starts"). In other words, he started to really labor once he was between about 110 and 130 INN. This looks to me like he ran out of gas in August as he surpassed his previous innings high at the big league level.

44 Jay Jaffe   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:34 am

I take sole responsibility for jinxing the no-hitter.

As anyone who follows my blue-streaked Twitter stream already knows, I was out at an East Village bar last night when I saw the line score through 7 innings. My friend and I bolted in search of the nearest place with a TV showing baseball; we asked someone to flip to the Yankees game as we were coming in.

No sooner had we settled with our beers than I realized we were in a Red Sox bar, Professor Thom's. The first fucking pitch we saw was the comebacker.

It's all on me. My sincerest apologies.

45 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:36 am

[38][41] Agreed about innings caps, but as I mentioned above, the buzz is that Hughes' innings limit is higher this year than Joba's was last year. What I have read claims that Hughes is limited to around 170 or 175 INN. That should be much more manageable that Joba's 150 or so cap last season, especially as they have already skipped once or twice in April.

46 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:44 am

[45] yeah, same thing i've heard. probably here lol. And yeah it is key. But since Hughes' limit is so much closer to 200 IP I think he'll be fine with just a handful of skipped starts around off days. And under the circumstances they can probably spread those out if the rotation stays healthy.

47 RIYank   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:49 am

[45] Hm, nice. Well, that gives them a lot of flexibility. Are we hoping Hughes doesn't go too deep in his starts, then?? That would be a funny feeling.

Last night's 7 1/3 innings were very low-wear innings. He almost never pitched from the stretch, and he only threw 100 pitches. Come Sept., maybe they'll go by how strong or tired Hughes is looking and feeling, rather than by bean counting.

48 seamus   ~  Apr 22, 2010 11:50 am

[46] i should clarify that that "but" doesn't mean anything since i'm obviously agreeing with you 100%. doh!

49 monkeypants   ~  Apr 22, 2010 12:20 pm

[47] Good question. I'm not sure how the FO approaches this. They had him throwing simulated games when they skipped his starts in April, so it seems as though they take into consideration not only the total number of innings (and presumably pitches) thrown, but also the rigorousness of those innings. Also, Girardi pushed Hughes for 108 pitches in his first start this year, including sending him out for the start of the sixth inning. If they really wanted to limit his innings, that seemed like a good spot, by pulling him after five. Maybe they are charting game pitches more than innings? So I think you're right: they are (probably, hopefully) not simply bean counting.

50 Bobtaco   ~  Apr 22, 2010 1:23 pm

I was at the game last night. I got there at the top of the second, and because the scoreboards at Oakland Coliseum suck, I had no idea Hughes was throwing a no-hitter. It seemed from the stands he was striking out a lot of guys and he was in command, but no hitter didn't cross my mind. Definitely a fun game to see in person.

51 MDF   ~  Apr 22, 2010 2:27 pm

Beautiful post.

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