All spring, the buzz around Phil Hughes centered on the development of his changeup. It was the pitch that seemed to put him over the top in the competition to be the Yankees fifth starter, and it was the pitch that was supposed to make all the difference in his return to the rotation.
Then he made his first start of the regular season against a team that has a lot of success against changeups.
By Hughes’ count he threw only five changeups tonight, all but one of them to Hideki Matsui. Hughes said the Yankees scouting reports said even the Angels left-handed hitters have success against right-handed changeups, so he stayed away from the pitch much of the night. He worked mostly fastball-curveball the first time through the lineup, then mixed in more cutters the second time through.
“There were some points where maybe I could have thrown one (changeup),” Hughes said. “But I just didn’t feel like it was the proper pitch.”
It wasn’t so much the five walks that bothered him, it was the pitches leading up to the walks that he called disappointing. He kept getting into 3-2 counts, feeling like he should have put a hitter away before it got to that point. Here’s the Hughes audio.
• Robinson Cano was named after Jackie Robinson, and on the night the Yankees honored Robinson’s memory, Cano hit his fourth and fifth home runs of the season. “If it wasn’t for him, who knows where I would be,” Cano said.
• It’s hard to overstate how good Cano has been through these first nine games of the season. He’s easily the team’s biggest offensive weapon right now. “I always put in my mind that I want to hit with men on base,” Cano said.
• Hughes was at 97 pitches when Joe Girardi sent him back out for the sixth inning. “I like the way he was still throwing the baseball,” Girardi said. “We talked about that we would let him get up to 110.”
• The Yankees have a day off on Monday, and Girardi said all of the starters will stay on their normal turn with an extra day of rest. That includes Hughes. His turn will not be skipped.
• When Joba Chamberlain got the double play that ended the eighth inning, it came on three straight sliders. “Short one, big one, short one,” he said.
• Speaking of relievers, Dave Robertson rebounded in a big way from that grand slam he allowed two days ago. “I felt good,” Robertson said. “I felt the same as I did last time, I just wasn’t as fine with my pitches.”
That’s an Associated Press photo of Cano with Alex Rodriguez after the game.