Not much worthwhile to put up today in terms of audio. But here are a few statistics and observations:
• It’s interesting how much more confident Phil Hughes looks as a reliever. For his sake, hopefully he is learning lessons that will help him as a starter. Hughes is challenging hitters with his fastball and curveball and pitching with the “go ahead and try and hit this” attitude everybody saw back in 2007. Hughes has walked three in 13.2 innings as a reliever. He walked 15 in 34.2 innings as a starter. Part of it is abandoning his change-up in favor of only four-seamers, curveballs and splits. “I don’t want to get beat with my fourth-best pitch,” Hughes said.
I wrote back in spring training that Hughes would throw 100 innings in the majors and be a huge factor. He has thrown 48.1 innings so far. Joe Girardi would be smart to use him two innings at a time once in a while, sort of like Mariano back in the day or Ramiro Mendoza.
• Speaking of Mariano, he has allowed one run on two hits in his last 10.1 innings while striking out 14. He has converted 35 straight save chances at home going back to 2007.
• Of A-Rod’s 14 homers, half have come in the sixth inning or beyond with the margin no more than two runs either way.
• Robinson Cano is a .348 career hitter in July. That said, he is 0 for his last 15 with runners in scoring position.
• A.J. Burnett’s last four games: 27.1 innings, 16 hits, 3 earned runs, 12 walks, 33 strikeouts. That’s an 0.99 ERA. He was 8-2, 2.86 after the All-Star break last season. I asked him if he felt like he was building toward that again. “I do,” he said. “I really do. It’s all confidence.”
• Quote of the day is from Brian Tallet: “It’s a little different but they spent a billion dollars to build the same ballpark.”
$1.5 billion, actually.
• Toronto has lost five of six. If they don’t make some sort of move before the break, J.P. Ricciardi is putting out a “For Sale” sign.
• Scott Rolen is not the hitter he once was. But he is every bit the third baseman. He is a pleasure to watch out there.
Thanks to everybody for reading today. Back at it tomorrow for another day game.