Seven days ago, the Yankees staged a premiere of sorts. - Metro US

Seven days ago, the Yankees staged a premiere of sorts.

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Seven days ago, the Yankees staged a premiere of sorts. The
plot was Phil Hughes makes his postseason debut.

The original was such a smashing success that the Yankees
anticipated something similar from the sequel, especially in a ballpark that
had tested well for Hughes.

Like many films, the sequel was a dud as Hughes was knocked
around over four-plus innings and the Rangers evened the ALCS with a 7-2 victory.

“He was up in the zone today, didn’t have much of a
curveball and you leave the ball up in the zone – it’s a dangerous club that we
talked about, and they hurt him,” manager Joe Girardi said.

A week ago, Hughes pitched seven shutout innings as the
Yankees wrapped up a sweep of the Twins. Six days later, Hughes was torched for
seven runs and 10 hits before being lifted two batters into the fifth.

“I really didn’t give us a chance to win today,”
Hughes said. “That’s the most disappointing thing. You try to go out there
and minimize damage — you saw what we did last night — and we could have a
chance. Really, being down five in the later innings, you can’t do that every

Pitching in a ballpark where he once carried a no-hitter
before injuring his hamstring in May 2007 and had not allowed a run 15 1/3
innings, the second installment of Hughes’ postseason pitching career was a
complete flop that at times was filled with teases of favorable scenes.

At times during the regular season, Hughes struggled to
finish hitters with two strikes and that was one of the problems yesterday as
five hits occurred with two strikes. And when he did not get to two strikes the
hits sometimes occurred early in counts.

Regardless of when the hits happened, it was a box-office
bomb for the Yankees, who now face Cliff Lee Monday at Yankee Stadium and if
that does not go in their favor, hope A.J. Burnett can reprise his role as
dominating pitcher (see Game Two of 2009 World Series) in Game Four.

That is assuming Burnett actually makes that start. The
possibility exists that CC Sabathia might take the ball on short rest Tuesday
but if that’s the case, Girardi wasn’t saying.

“Our starters have not pitched well so far,” Girardi said.
“Our starters pitched extremely well and everyone was giddy about them the last
series. I don’t ever get too involved in snapshot pictures because those can be
dangerous. I believe in our guys and I believe that they will pitch well as we
continue forward here.”

The bad reviews came early as Elvis Andrus led off and
scored the first run by stealing home on a double steal. It became worse with
one out in the second when David Murphy lifted a 2-0 cutter over the right
field fence followed by Michael Young sending a cutter into right field for a
RBI double.

The third continued to be a nightmarish storyline for Hughes
as he gave up consecutive RBI doubles to Murphy and Bengie Molina – putting the
Yankees down 5-0 just where they were in Game One.

Hughes, however, unlike Sabathia in Game One could not keep
it at five as he allowed a Nelson Cruz RBI triple in the fifth and then was
charged with the seventh run when Joba Chamberlain gave up a Moreland single.

While Hughes could not reprise his starring role from his
postseason debut, the Yankee offense also could not re-ignite their comeback
tendencies. They definitely had chances but they turned out to be a tease as
they stranded 11 and were a putrid 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

They had various chances against Colby Lewis, whom they had
not seen on the opposing mound since August 5, 2003. Those chances went wasted
due to various things such as Lance Berkman getting caught in an inning-ending
rundown in the fifth moments after his single scored the first run and pinch
hitter Marcus Thames striking out against Clay Rapada to strand two in the

“Today we just didn’t do it — you can’t do it every
day,” Berkman said.

The reviews were bad all around for the Bombers and could
get worse against Lee, but for well over a decade Andy Pettitte has provided
mostly positive reviews on the postseason as a Yankee.

“The guy that’s getting lost in this is Andy Pettitte – and
he’s pretty good,” Girardi said.

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