Hanging in Phil Hughes locker after tonight’s game were a half dozen or so All-Star Game jerseys. They’re gifts for friends and family. He pulled the smallest one — intended for some young relative — and said, “I’m going to wear this one in the game.”
Yes, the Yankees No. 5 starter is an all-star, and he pitched like it again tonight. This was his 11th win, and his ERA dropped back down to 3.65. Joe Girardi was impressed by his fastball, and Hughes said his curveball was as good as it’s been this season.
Thing is, Hughes’ day started with uncertainty. He woke up believing he would be pitching against Cliff Lee, then he heard the trade rumors and wondered if he might be bumped to the bullpen because of Cliff Lee.
“Obviously we’re not going to go with a six-man rotation in the second half,” Hughes said. “Something’s got to give. You kind of do the math and figure it’s not going to be the top three guys, so where do we fall into this picture? It’s kind of the way this game is. It’s not always about feel-good stories and keeping guys that were good in spring training around.”
Hughes is one of those feel-good stories: A 24-year-old who seems to be coming into his own at the big league level.
“Right now,” Mark Teixeira said. “All the hype is true.”
• Speaking of Teixeira, he hit home runs from both sides of the plate tonight and has looked more and more like himself at the plate lately. “It’s one of those times when I’m seeing the ball from both sides, and I’m not having to fight one or the other,” he said. “That happens on and off all during the season. Sometimes you’re fighting one, sometimes you’re fighting the other.”
• Hughes tied Andy Pettitte for the highest winning percentage (.846) in the American League. He has yet to allow a home run on the road this season.
• This is the first time since 2002 that the Yankees have allowed two runs or less in five straight games. They’ve allowed a total of six runs in the past five games. Most of that is due to great starting pitching this turn through the rotation. “It really helps,” Girardi said. “Because we’ve been in some tight games and we haven’t scored a lot of runs.”
• That’s 30 straight games reaching base for Teixeira. Since June 8 he’s batting .309 with nine doubles, nine home runs, 25 RBI and six walks.
• Chan Ho Park allowed two fairly weak singles, but Girardi was actually impressed with what he saw. “I thought his stuff was about as good as we’ve seen,” Girardi said.
• Dave Robertson had that ugly outing in New York earlier this month. He’s since pitched 3.1 scoreless with two hits and four strikeouts.
• A seven-game winning streak is a season-high. The Yankees have won 12 of their past 15 games on the road.
Associated Press photos of Hughes and Teixeira