The Yankees are committed to limiting Phil Hughes’ innings this season, but the two times he’s pitched on extended rest, he’s struggled.
Tonight was his first start in 11 days, and Hughes allowed six earned runs through five-plus innings. The only other time he allowed six earned this season was June 29, when he went 10 days between starts after the Yankees skipped his turn in the rotation to limit his workload.
“We have to manage his innings, and you have to look at him long term,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Maybe do something a little bit different between starts if you have to do it again. The bottom line is, he has a limitation, and we have to respect that. It’s difficult for any pitcher when you have a long layoff. It’s not just him.”
Hughes, as you might expect, said he didn’t feel any different, but it’s hard not to notice that he seemed to have turned a corner in his last start before the break, then took a step back tonight. “He didn’t have much command of his fastball and he got beat with his cutter, not having a whole lot of command of that as well,” Girardi said. Those were the same problems as in those late-June, early-July outings.
“I felt fine,” Hughes said. “Obviously with the all-star break and the day off being back in the rotation, it was kind of an extended break, but I really didn’t feel anything any different.”
• Girardi was stunned when he was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing a call at first base. This is the same crew that ejected him earlier this season in Toronto. “I was shocked when I was tossed, then I got a little hot,” Girardi said. “I’ve been tossed nine times as a Yankee. I’ll be the first to tell you (that) eight times I deserved it. Tonight I thought I didn’t deserve it.”
• I’m guessing by the time that picture was taken, Girardi was in the “deserved it” phase of his argument.
• Jonathan Albaladejo admitted he was a little tired by the end of his outing — he threw more than 30 pitches for only the second time this season — but that was a solid return. He might not be an eighth-inning candidate, but he’s tossed his name into the ring for regular middle relief work.
• What made Sean O’Sullivan so effective after that first inning? “All of a sudden his changeup got real good,” Girardi said. Jorge Posada said the exact same thing. “Even when he was falling behind int he count, he was throwing his changeup and throwing it for strikes,” Posada said.
• Stunning stat from the Yankees fine media staff: Posada has thrown out six runners this season. Four of them have been Bobby Abreu, who was thrown out twice tonight.
• Nick Swisher hit his ninth Yankee Stadium home run of the season. He hit eight at Yankee Stadium all of last season.
• Speaking of homers at Yankee Stadium, Hughes has allowed 13 home runs this year, every single one of them at home. He wasn’t too pleased with the Maicer Izturis homer that got just over the wall in right. “I didn’t feel like it was a horrible pitch,” Hughes said. “The way the short porch here is, it’s going to happen sometimes, and it’s going to happen on nights when nothing’s going right. I have to make better pitches earlier to stay out of those situations.”
• Hughes wasn’t hurt on that comebacker. “It was fine,” he said. “Just hit the outside of my calf. I didn’t really feel any pain or anything like that.”
• Mark Teixeira has now reached base in 36 straight games. That matches the longest such streak of his career.
• The Yankees fell to 3-4 against the Angels this season and need a win tomorrow to avoid losing the season series for the sixth time in the past seven years.
Associated Press photos of Hughes and Girardi