Phil Hughes improved to 5-0 on the season with another fantastic start. This time he threw 7 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just five hits, one walk, and struck out 8. Once again, Hughes threw a steady mix of fastballs and cutters to overpower the Tigers lineup. Of his 101 pitches, 62 were four-seam fastball, 28 were cutters, and just 11 were curves, and he had great command of the zone, throwing 71 of his pitches for strikes. His fastball was very good, averaged 92.94 and topped out a 95.1 mph.
He ran into trouble a couple times, but each time was able to escape the inning. He allowed a leadoff double to Miguel Cabrera to leadoff the second, but then struck out Brennan Boesch, Alex Avila and Don Kelly to get out of the inning. Hughes ran into a little more trouble in the fourth when he walked Johnny Damon and gave up a single to Magglio Ordonez to put two on with nobody out. Then, after Cabrera lined out, Hughes gave up another single to Boesch to load the bases. Once again, he would get out of it, this time by striking out Avila and getting Kelly to pop out to Robinson Cano to end the inning. Besides those two minor bumps in the road, tonight was a breeze for Hughes.
Hughes now has an AL best 1.38 ERA, and he shows no signs of slowing down. I'm not sure how long he will keep this up, but as of right now is there a better pitcher in the American League?
After being held scoreless in the first game, the Yankees jumped on the board with two early runs in the nightcap. Brett Gardner singled, stole second, and then scored on an Alex Rodriguez RBI single. Two innings later Derek Jeter walked, stole second, and scored on Mark Teixeira's RBI single.
That's how the score would stay as both teams matched zeros.
After Hughes left the game, Joba Chamberlain came in for a scoreless eighth. Joba once again brought his 2007 fastball with him to the mound, topping out at 97 and averaging 95.83. Of his 15 pitches, 11 were strikes. I had always been a Joba to the rotation guy, but after seeing him regain that fastball it's looking more and more like he's right where he belongs.
The Yankees took all the drama out of this one when they send 12 men to the plate and scored six runs in the top of the ninth. Francisco Cervelli, Gardner, Tex, A-Rod and Randy Winn all picked up at least one RBI in the inning--Tex drove in two--as the Yanks beat up Tigers relievers Phil Coke and Alfredo Figaro.
In desperate need of some work, Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth and needed just 12 pitches (10 strikes) to retire the Tigers in order.
Brett Gardner had a big night, picking up three hits, scoring two and his 16th stolen base of the year. Mark Teixeira also had a nice night, going 2-for-5 with 3 RBI. Alex Rodriguez also went 2-for-5 and drove in two. And Francisco Cervelli continued his hot start with a 2-for-4 night.
The Yankees look for a series split when they send CC Sabathia to the mound tomorrow afternoon. He will be facing Tigers ace Justin Verlander. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. and the game will be on YES.