Phil Hughes’ lack of major league experience made him the fifth man behind Javier Vazquez. If positive Yankee experience played a role, though, Hughes would have the upper hand by now.
Hughes provided further evidence he is the fifth starter in name only by scattering four singles in his best seven innings of the season as the Yankees rolled to a 12-3 rout over the White Sox yesterday.
“Obviously I expect a lot of myself, but if you’re looking through an outside perspective, not a lot was expected from me going in,” Hughes said. “But it really doesn’t factor into my mindset at all.”
A day after Vazquez (1-3) gave up three home runs and was booed off the mound, Hughes (3-0) struck out six and lowered his team-leading ERA to 1.44. Hughes improved to 5-0 over his last eight starts dating back to last year when he was a fill-in for the injured Chien-Ming Wang. During that span, opposing hitters have a .181 (30-for-166) average.
Hughes’ control and versatile repertoire — he added an occasional changeup along with a more consistent cutter — hasn’t just turned around opposing batters. It’s also turned the head of his own manager. Joe Girardi pulled Hughes after just 99 pitches, perhaps a signal Vazquez could be skipped in his next scheduled start on Friday in favor of Hughes.
“It’s hard to say that Hughsie hasn’t done pretty much everything right for us so far,” Girardi said. “He’s been really good and we felt really good about him coming out of spring training.”
They should be feeling great now. Hughes has allowed three runs or less in 11 of his last 13 starts.
He could’ve dropped the ball yesterday, though, and still walked away a winner. The Bombers, without Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, pounded out three home runs among a season-high 16 hits. It was their seventh series win in eight tries.
Brett Gardner connected in the fourth inning with his first homer in 167 at-bats. Robinson Cano added a three-run shot in the fifth before Nick Swisher hit a two-run drive in the seventh. Mark Teixeira didn’t go long, but his four singles raised his average from .153 to .189.
“That was a big day,” Teixeira said.”