The New York Yankees finally got the start they were looking for from Phil Hughes on Sunday. Hughes, coming off of a terrible outing against the Los Angeles Angels, was nothing short of brilliant in his return to the mound against the Detroit Tigers. Hughes notched his first complete game and dominated the Tigers from start to finish.
Sunday’s start was Hughes’ best start since 2009 when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers. He left that game only because he injured his hamstring as he landed funny on his left leg. This time, however, there were no injuries, just pure dominance. Hughes allowed one run, a solo home run by Prince Fielder in the fourth inning, and scattered just three other hits and three walks. Miguel Cabrera was the only other Tiger to reach second base only because of a passed ball after singling in the first inning. Hughes notched 8 strikeouts, including two against Cabrera who has dominated Yankee pitching since he was an infant in diapers. More importantly, Hughes never had more than one runner on base at a time, never was under pressure, and retired 14 of the last 16 men he faced to end the game. All but five outs stayed in the infield, a huge improvement for the flyball prone Hughes.
Hughes threw 123 pitches, a career high. However, velocity never seemed to be a problem for the pitcher who early on last year had trouble getting his fastball to break 91 MPH. His last pitch was recorded at 93 MPH, a slight increase in his average velocity which sat around 92 and change most of the game. His fastball showed some life to it and he kept hitters off balance by mixing in the occasional curveball, changeup, and cutter. This is now Hughes’ fifth good start in his last six outings, going 4-1 over that span.
The New York Yankees went into yesterday game against the Tigers 5-3 on a nine game road trip with Hughes facing off against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Not many Yankee fans were confident that Hughes would be able to outduel Verlander but that is exactly what happened and the Yankees were able to return home with a 6-3 road trip under their belts. The Yankees were very close to making it an 8-1 road trip, losing two games in walk-off style to the Angels and Tigers.
The New York Yankees are starting to show some life. They swept the Oakland A’s, were close to winning 2 of 3 from the Angels who are one of baseball’s hottest teams right now, and took 3 of 3 from Detroit including one against arguably the best pitcher in the game right now. Alex Rodriguez is finally showing some consistent power, having now homered in four of the Yankees last ten games and two in the last three. There are several good signs as the Yankees head home for the first time since May 23rd to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in what figures to be the most pivotal series of the year so far for the Yankees. Perhaps the Yankees are getting hot at just the right time.