On May 1, 2007, Phil Hughes pitched in this ballpark for the first time. You probably know the story: It was his second Major League start. He was eight outs away from a no-hitter. He tried to throw a big curveball to Mark Teixeira and pulled his hamstring.
“I remember coming into that game, coming off my debut (which) wasn’t great,” Hughes said. “I still wanted to prove something, and I remember coming into that game and feeling really good. Everything was working. I came out early and was able to throw strikes. And then you know — it seems like a distant memory now — but obviously it didn’t end too well. That was certainly disappointing. Family and friends know not really to bring it up, just because it’s not one of my best memories. But at the same time, it was my first Major League win, and that certainly is still special.”
Hughes has since pitched twice in this stadium. One start, one relief appearance, and a total of three hits allowed. His success in Texas is one of the reasons the Yankees pegged him for Game 2 of the ALCS. Despite the less-than-perfect beginning, Hughes said he feels “pretty comfortable” in this park. His only appearance here this season was an inning of relief to stay sharp between starts.
It’s a strange road that brought Hughes to this point — premier prospect, strange injuries, up-and-down big league starts, back to the minors, big league reliever — but he lived up to all of the Yankees hopes and expectations in the division series. Now it’s time to take his show back on the road. For the second Saturday in a row, Hughes will make the biggest start of his career.
“I had to go through a lot in those first couple of years,” he said. “You know, coming up and feeling good about things, and you know, having those few years in the Minor Leagues where I didn’t really have too many hiccups. Then having to do the whole rehab thing, getting re-injured during my rehab, really not pitching for the entire season, coming back and then getting hurt the next year. It was a tough couple of years for me. But I really feel like that kind of shaped me into what I’ve been able to do so far, you know, just having to deal with that adversity and getting through it. I always try to take it as a positive and feel like it helped me get to this point.”
• TBS announced that more than 8.1 million viewers watched Game 1. It was the most-watched (based on total viewers) LCS Game 1 ever on cable, supplanting last years NLCS opener. The game drew a 13.9 rating in the New York market and a 21.9 rating in Dallas/Fort-Worth.
• Nick Swisher bunting last night: “Actually that was a play that we put on,” Joe Girardi said.
• Girardi said the Yankees still plan to have CC Sabathia pitch Game 5. He pulled him after 93 pitches last night because, “He just had worked extremely hard.”
• Girardi said he wasn’t surprised that the Rangers let a lefty pitch to Marcus Thames last night. “I had Berkman ready to go,” Girardi said. “He also knows Lance Berkman is a very good hitter too.”
• Speaking of Thames, despite all the talk about an open competition during spring training, Girardi said today that Thames was never really in danger of not making the team. “That’s where our scouts and our front office play an important role, knowing what Marcus can do,” Girardi said. “Going out and getting him and saying, he’s going to hit against left-handers.”
• Late in last night’s game, Girardi was trying to prepare himself for any situation. “We had a couple of guys up,” he said. “We didn’t have enough (bullpen) mounds.”
• The eighth-inning pickoff by Kerry Wood was actually called from the Yankees bench. “We are no different from any other club,” Girardi said. “You have a coach that gives signs and you do your homework where guys try to run. And you watch the baserunner. We are in clear view of the baserunner, what he’s trying to do if he’s trying to time it. And we try to hold the runners close. Kinsler broke and Kerry picked at the right time. It’s something where you do spend a lot of time going over it, and Tony (Pena) spends a lot of time. Tony was a catcher and understands the running game, and what teams are trying to do to us and we discuss it and it worked out for us.
• Ron Washington on trying to bounce back from last night: “I addressed my team after the game, and of course, it was positive. We did a lot of positive things last night. The only one thing we didn’t do was win the ballgame. But you know, after I addressed those guys and I talked with my staff, took a shower, got something to eat, went home, got up and came to the ballpark ready to do it again. It’s a 7-game series. We probably let one get away. My guys are resilient. They will show up today and they will go out and fight as hard as they did last night. I would like to be in the same position again and see what happens. I would like to get in the position of just having to get six more outs, and next time, we’ll probably get it done. We didn’t get it done last night, and we all take credit for that.”
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
David Murphy LF
Bengie Molina C
Mitch Moreland 1B
Associated Press photos of Hughes and Girardi