When a group of a dozen or so writers gathered around Phil Hughes’ locker last night, he quickly noticed someone was missing. The YES Network is usually there, and Kim Jones usually asks the first question. There was no Kim last night.
“You guys better come up with some questions,” Hughes said.
That’s the Yankees fifth starter. He’s 23 years old, living up to his lofty potential and feeling comfortable in the moment. Last night he joked with ease, then broke down his outing with unflinching honesty and perspective.
“The stuff just wasn’t great,” he said. “Command-wise I was a little off. You have these days and you battle and hope that we do score enough runs. You just have to tip your cap to them. They took a different approach than they did last game I faced them. They were more aggressive and didn’t let the counts get too deep.”
Joe Girardi’s evaluation was simple: “I’ve seen him sharper but he was pretty good.”
Hughes has been so good this year that six innings and three runs — with no walks and no extra-base hits — seems like a bad game. It wasn’t. Last night wasn’t his best game, but it was enough, and learning to win without great stuff is part of the process.
“It’s great when you do get those cheap ones sometimes,” Hughes said. “You don’t feel good and you’re stuff isn’t good but you’re able to go out there and not get rocked. It’s a good feeling, not having your best stuff and still pitching decent.”
Associated Press photo.