Hughes way off in his first start - Metro US

Hughes way off in his first start

The Yankees had expected a dip in Phil Hughes’ velocity. But when the right-hander’s location was off, too, it turned into a rough day — the kind that even seven runs and 12 hits could not support.

Hughes labored through four innings yesterday afternoon in a 10-7 loss to the Tigers.

In the Yankees’ first defeat of 2011 and Hughes’ first start as the third man in the rotation, he allowed five runs on five hits and struggled to keep the ball down in the zone. For that, Miguel Cabrera made him pay twice.

In the first inning, the slugger fouled off two pitches then crushed a 1-2 hanging slider well over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead. Two innings later, Cabrera launched a 1-1 88-mph, inside fastball out of the yard.

“It was bad location overall,” Hughes said. “It’s tough you want to get off to a good start. I didn’t give my team a chance to win.”

Hughes’ four-seam fastball topped out at 91 mph and averaged 89.2 mph the 25 times it was thrown. His cutter only averaged 83.5 mph.

“It’s really early,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I’m more concerned with guys locating the baseball and he wasn’t too sharp today.”

Hughes’ pitch count is also a concern. He averaged 4.7 pitches per hitter as the Tigers fouled off 25 pitches in the series finale.

“That was a big thing,” Hughes said. “My pitch count was high obviously because I wasn’t able to locate the ball as well.”

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