Getting good run support can hide a lot of things for a pitcher.
For Phil Hughes that was the case last month when he was 4-1 with a 5.17 ERA. Hughes was able to reach 10 victories through June because his teammates scored 35 runs while facing the Orioles and Astros in three of his starts. The other win was against Mike Pelfrey and the loss came against Cliff Lee.
When the support vanishes like it did last night, the lack of pitch command becomes a problem that ultimately leads to a 10-2 loss against the Angels.
Hughes pitched for the first time since July 9 and it was the second lengthy break in between starts in the last month. He also went 11 days between beating the Mets and losing to the Mariners due to an innings limit.
If that is an excuse, Hughes was not ready to take it just like he stayed accountable for his poor showing June 30.
“You have to find a way to try and get back to that,” Hughes said “I know it’s there. I have to put some good outings together. The pressure is there because Andy’s down and we have to battle through this. Tonight wasn’t a step in the right direction.”
The Yankees believe it exists though manager Joe Girardi seemed willing to use the layoff as a reason.
“We’ll get it ironed out,” Girardi said. “He did have a long time between starts because of the break, and that can have something to do with it. His last start, he threw well in Seattle. The start where he had the long layoff, he didn’t throw so great. I’m curious to see how he does in his next start.”
“He’s had such a great run,” Nick Swisher added. “There’s no way we’re going to let one start ruin all he has done. We have the utmost confidence in him.”
His next start will be Sunday against Kansas City – the day after Sergio Mitre makes the start for Andy Pettitte.
At some point over the next four days, Hughes will study the video and see things such as the fastball that Macier Izturis sent over the right field wall in the fourth. He will also get a glimpse at the flat cutter that Mike Napoli crushed to right that sent Girardi out to make a pitching change.
It was not the first time Girardi came out. He raced out in the first after Hughes speared a Howard Kendrick comebacker. Girardi would have reason to race out since Pettitte injured his groin Sunday and A.J Burnett hurt his hand Saturday but when he came out Hughes was fine physically even if his pitches were not.
Other things that were not fine would be the Yankee offense, which every now and then struggles against someone they have not seen live before.
That was Sean O’Sullivan, who was summoned to replace Scott Kazmir (fatigued left shoulder).
O’Sullivan fell behind on his third pitch when Swisher homered and then 2-0 when Jorge Posada drove in a run on a groundout. With two on, he fanned Curtis Granderson on a changeup and that pitched proved troublesome the rest of the night.
The Yankees did not get another hit until O’Sullivan was finished after six. They had just one baserunner the rest of their time against O’Sullivan, who used his changeup to record one-third of the final 15 outs.
“We had him on the ropes in the first, and he battled his way back,” Swisher said. “We’ve got to give credit where credit is due. He went mainly changeup-slider after that, and he had our number tonight. That’s the first time we’ve seen him, and we’ll remember that for next time.”
One of those outs sent Girardi back to his office when first base umpire Paul Emmel ejected him for contesting the call of Mark Teixeira’s groundout in the fifth. After his ninth ejection as Yankee manager, Girardi flicked his gum on to the field and later said this was the only time in three seasons he did not deserve to be ejected.
Considering how last night’s game unfolded, the ejection was the least of their problems.