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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Postgame notes: “I feel like I’m close”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes on Jun 16, 2012 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Exactly two years ago, Phil Hughes had a 3.11 ERA. He was three days away from his 10th win, a few weeks away from his first all-star game and two years away from ever showing that sort of consistency again.

Today, Hughes is back, still far from a perfect but consistently pitching deep into games and winning them. Tonight Hughes faced a Nationals team that had won six straight — swept the Blue Jays and Red Sox — and through most of the game he pitched with no more than a one-run lead. He delivered six innings strong innings, giving up one run and striking out nine.

“I feel like I’m close,” Hughes said. “Every time I go out, I want to get a little bit better. We’re not going to be perfect every time. That first part of 2010, I was pitching really well. I’d like to get back to that. It’s a good step. It’s a growing process, a learning process, trying to tweak some things and get better every time. I’ll continue to do that, not necessarily thinking about, ‘I want to pitch like this month two years ago,’ but trying to help the team now and pitch as well as I can.”

There’s a renewed confidence to Hughes. After spending years talking about offspeed pitches, Hughes is leaning heavily on the four-seam fastball that’s always been his best pitch.

“I feel better with everything, my stuff, (and) aggressiveness has played a key role in that,” he said. “I’m just attacking hitters. When I fall behind, coming with my fastball instead of tyrying to pitch around guys or get tentative.”

It’s interesting that Andy Pettitte was hurt through most of Hughes’ rocky second half of 2010, was retired through all of his injury-plagued 2011 and pitching in the minor leagues when Hughes got off to a slow start this season. Maybe it’s conicidence, or maybe Pettitte is a positive influence.

“I’ve known Phil since the first time he came up here, so I’ve been able to see him progress as a pitcher, and get better and better,” Pettitte said. “… The decision-making, being able to relax out there in certain situations, confidence after you have a couple starts that carry on into the next start. All those things factored together is why he’s getting on a good roll right now. Mechanically, I think he found something a few starts ago where he might be hiding the ball better. I think it might be a combination of a lot of stuff.”

Hughes said the mechanical adjustment is a small one he made during his complete game in Detroit, but he was pitching well long before that. In his past eight starts, though, Hughes is 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA. In early May he seemed to be pitching his way out of the rotation. Now he seems to be pitching his way back to 2010.

“It’s as good as we’ve seen him,” Joe Girardi said. “… We felt this was a guy that could win a lot of games for us, and that’s what he’s doing.”

• Tonight was Girardi’s 500th win as a manager. In the clubhouse, Derek Jeter presented Girardi with a game ball and addressed the team, congratulating Girardi on the milestone. “It’s a big deal,” Jeter said. “Like I said, 500 is like 750 in New York. He’s done a great job since he’s been with us, and he should be extremely proud of that.”

• Girardi on No. 500: “Obviously I can’t do this without the coaches and the players and the front office that gives me an opportunity to do this. We’ve got a group of guys in there a group of guys in there that play hard and do their thing. They’re the guys who win the games.”

• Another milestone for Alex Rodriguez, who tied Jimmie Foxx for sixth place on baseball’s all-time home runs list.

• Rodriguez drove in his run with a single in the third inning, and for a while it seemed the Yankees would finally win a game without hitting a homer. That went out the window when Curtis Granderson hit his 20th of the season in the ninth inning. “I didn’t know,” Granderson said. “I think Boone made a comment, Tex made a comment, said I was selfish. I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to!’”

• Although he allowed a run on two hits, Dave Robertson said he didn’t feel rusty tonight. “Not really,” he said. “I felt really good. I gave up a couple of hits. It’s going to happen. In the end, I felt like I made a lot of good pitches, so I’m very happy with the outing. … . I felt like my location was pretty good on most of my pitches.”

• Most honest quote of the night: “Very excited to be back here pitching in the big leagues,” Robertson said. “It’s a little better than Batavia.”

• Easily the Yankees biggest outs of the game came on the bases-loaded double play that let them get out of the third inning with the Nationals scoring only once run. “They got the bases loaded and I made a horrible pitch,” Hughes said. “Hung a curveball on 0-2. I got out of it on the next pitch, which was great, to be able to give up just the one run in that situation.”

• Hughes said Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez gave him a hard time after Hughes grounded out in the third inning. “On the 2-0 (pitch), I kind of took a big swing,” Hughes said. “He was just like, ‘Come on, man. Take a strike.’ I tried to get a fastball I could hit, and I hit it foul.”

• Hughes explaining his mechanical adjustment: “After the third inning in Detroit, I made a little mechanical adjustment trying to close my body off a little more, help hide the ball and create more of an angle to home plate. It’s not an overdramatic twist or anything like that, just a little turn that allows me to hide the ball better and create a better angle to home plate.”

• Seems right that Hughes gets the final word: “It’s big,” Hughes said. “I want to keep the streak going as long as we can. Guys are pitching well and you don’t want to be the one that lets it down. I’ll continue to try and get better between every start. Hopefully this keeps up.”

Associated Press photos

 
 

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48 Responses to “Postgame notes: “I feel like I’m close””

  1. yankeefeminista June 16th, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Just watching on replay; that Hughes 100th pitch 12-6 curveball was filthy.

  2. djsunyc June 16th, 2012 at 12:29 am

    the hughes and morse at bat in the 6th inning was awesome. he just kept challenging him then pulled the string.

    this team is so much fun to watch right now. hughes is doing his thing. worst starting pitcher is now CC lol…

    side note – morse’s oppo power reminds me so much of piazza.

  3. Betsy June 16th, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Kev, in the world of food, Rick Bayless is huge…lol much bigger than Skip is in his chosen profession.

    LGY, thanks – I have a passion for animals and in particular those who don’t fall in the cute range. Those are the ones who need protecting from human beings. Ok, I admit I particularly love horses, dogs and gorillas (can’t get much cuter), but while gorillas need protecting, the others are ok. Sharks need people to stand up for them because they can’t do it themselves. Peter Benchley died too young…..but he made a real impact, something that many of us can’t say.
    I may not post that often anymore, but I still lurk – guess you can’t kill me with a stick!

    Shame, I agree with you about Phil – he deserves a lot of credit for turning his season and very possibly his Yankee career around.

  4. Betsy June 16th, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Also, LGY – I adopted a mother and baby gorilla a few years ago; I adore them. I remember sitting down on the floor of a bookstore and crying reading about the murder of gorillas in Africa. They’re so humanlike, it’s scary. In essence, though, we’re the caretakers of the planet. If you can’t protect all animals, who after all are just doing what they do to survive, then I don’t think there’s a lot of hope for us.

    There’s nothing wrong with leaning on your best pitch if it’s good enough – just mix in the right amount of secondary pitches and you’re good to go.

    It’s a great thing for Nova and Hughes to be able to watch Andy just go about his business. He’s a great teacher even if he’s not sitting them down for heart to hearts; it’s like babies just picking things up from the adults around them. They absorb everything. So young pitchers absorb lessons from the veterans. I’m so glad Andy decided to return.

  5. jmills June 16th, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Hi Betsy ,…………my Jays suck.

  6. Tar June 16th, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Speaking of Shark bites, four people got bit in Myrtle Beach within 10 minutes of each other today. Nothing life threatening. But kind of weird anyway.

    Phil has been tipping his pitches, there is no doubt in my mind. I know he was doing it, especially from the stretch going back to the first Angels game. Glad they finally woke up and noticed something.

    Although I’m not sure they picked up on exactly what I did (or fixed it for that matter), just the fact that they are aware of a problem, has helped him tremendously. His confidence is back and that’s exactly what he needed.

    Phil has been Phantastic.

  7. We Want Mo Mo June 16th, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Nothing like Yankees fans slurping Ted Williams. He of the career .200 batting average in World Series, of the never changing batting approach, even when his inferior teammates needed him to swing the bat more, he selfishly kept it on his shoulders.

  8. Benny Blanco June 16th, 2012 at 1:07 am

    “In his past eight starts, though, Hughes is 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA.”

    You have to give credit when credit is due. Hughes has been pitching great. I believe the more he gets comfortable the better he will pitch.

  9. stanzy June 16th, 2012 at 1:21 am

    “Another milestone for Alex Rodriguez, who tied Jimmie Foxx for sixth place on baseball’s all-time home runs list.”

    RBI, eh?

  10. Rich in NJ June 16th, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I like this version of Hughes far more than the 2010 version because this one has more upside.

  11. waka flocka June 16th, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I was a big critic of Hughes and am glad he’s making me look dumb. He’s a nice guy and deserves the success.

  12. GreenBeret7 June 16th, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Rich in NJ June 16th, 2012 at 1:39 am
    I like this version of Hughes far more than the 2010 version because this one has more upside.

    ————————————————————————————————————————-

    Yawn… I wish Pettitte would have had more upside at age 24 or in 2000 or 2003. Complete wast.

  13. theREALkevin June 16th, 2012 at 1:59 am

    I don’t think it’s just tipping his pitches. It’s more than that. The curveball is improved, and so his is overall location. Way less fat fastballs. He’s locating better to the corners with his FB.

  14. Bo knows June 16th, 2012 at 2:19 am

    The curveball just from observation is at least 5 mph faster, high seventies as opposed to low seventies.

  15. Rich in NJ June 16th, 2012 at 2:19 am

    Yawn… I wish Pettitte would have had more upside at age 24 or in 2000 or 2003. Complete wast.
    -

    Pettitte was a completely different pitcher since he injured his elbow ligament in 1996 (when he was 24) His adjustment and success since then reflects well on his guts and pitch ability.

    My point was not meant to suggest that I was down on Highes in 2010 (no one who has read my posts over the years would ever get that impression.

    It is that Hughes’ FB was in 2010 was not as overpowering as it is now, and his curve was not as good. Plus the cutter was inconsistent, and that made him vulnerable to LH hitters.

    The Hughes I see now us much closer to the pitcher I saw in Trenton when he was dominating hitters.

    Speaking of yawning, I need some sleep.

  16. UnKnown June 16th, 2012 at 2:47 am

    Game Balls go to Hughes and Granderson.

    Grandy made a nice catch in the 6th when the game was still hanging by an eyelash and then he also put it away in the 7th with his 2 run double.

  17. Bret The Hitman June 16th, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Betsy has pet gorillas? Freaking cool!

  18. Wang IS Taiwan June 16th, 2012 at 6:12 am

    Great post-game notes for us, Chad. Thanks!

  19. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 6:32 am

    It just goes to show you that so many guys have the ability, it just takes adjustments to tap into it. You’ve got Granderson (I think) leading MLB in HRs since he changed his swing, and Hughes looks great after his small mechanical adjustment.

  20. GregD June 16th, 2012 at 6:45 am

    The pitching staff has been fantastic!!

  21. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Phil Hughes is an object lesson in the development of young pitching.

    The poster boy for the process.

    i.e., It takes time. It isn’t a straight line.

    If the Yankees want to be successful at it this is what it’s going to take.

    They could have given up on Phil and he could be doing this for another team.

    Glad they stayed the course.

    :)

  22. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Good morning-

    Belated birthday wishes to Andy and thank you for coming back. Your presence has helped make this pitching staff cohesive and better. Starters 10-1 with a 1.98 ERA for the month of June.

  23. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:17 am
    Good morning-

    Belated birthday wishes to Andy and thank you for coming back. Your presence has helped make this pitching staff cohesive and better. Starters 10-1 with a 1.98 ERA for the month of June.
    —————–

    Andy really does help the rotation turn over, but at the same time, Kuroda is finely living up to the back of his baseball card, Nova is working out his own kinks, and CC has just been solid…let’s not give Pettitte too much credit! This staff just got off to a slow start.

  24. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Jeter on Girardi’s 500th major league win: “He’s done a great job since he’s been with us, and he should be extremely proud of that.”

    If El Capitain says it’s so, Joe, that’s good enough for me.

  25. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Kev-

    I’m with you.

    I think the staff was bound to round into form eventually.

    Not sayin’ that AP is not a positive because he is just that the Pitchers and PC deserve some credit too.

    ;)

  26. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 7:28 am

    If El Capitain says it’s so, Joe, that’s good enough for me.
    ————–

    Yeah Trader. Agreed. I know Joe isn’t always the most “inspired” manager, but he’s solid at worst. He’s great at picking out the right arms out of the bullpen. For the most part he doesn’t make totally illogical decisions.

    Importantly, the clubhouse has really been at its best in a long time, certainly better than the end of Torre’s stay. Attribute that to the guys Cashman brings in, A-Rod chilling out and also becoming a positive clubhouse influence, but the culture under Joe is just really great. You can’t say that of every manager.

  27. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:29 am

    With better run support Kuroda could be 9-3. Both Nova and CC get almost 6 runs a game while Kuroda gets around 3.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/.....oki-kuroda

  28. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 7:41 am

    MTU,

    Yeah, it’s just great to have the guy back. Us Yankee fans are blessed to have these old guys around ;)

  29. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:42 am

    At this point I don’t see where another starter is needed. But there are rumors out there that the Yankees have interest in FA Ryan Dempster[15 straight scoreless innngs] and Matt Garza. I think Dempster will be traded soon. Dodgers? Boston?

  30. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Yeah, it’s just great to have the guy back. Us Yankee fans are blessed to have these old guys around.
    ——————————————-

    If we could just get Paul O’Neill back to help out in left. He’s only 49! :)

  31. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    YT-

    Don’t need either one IMO.

  32. CountryClub June 16th, 2012 at 7:51 am

    It’s not a perfect comparison because not every team has played the same amount of games. But the yanks pen has pitched the 2nd least amount of innings in the AL this yr. The starters have done a great job over the past few weeks.

  33. Villa Nova-Ya June 16th, 2012 at 7:57 am

    good morning.

    Jumping ahead not reading comments yet. Just want to say it is totally unfair to count Granderson’s HR as not being able to win a game w/o hitting a HR. The game was won before the HR was hit. It did not factor into the victory!!!! Unfair!!!! LOL

  34. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Villa Nova-Ya June 16th, 2012 at 7:57 am
    good morning.

    Jumping ahead not reading comments yet. Just want to say it is totally unfair to count Granderson’s HR as not being able to win a game w/o hitting a HR. The game was won before the HR was hit. It did not factor into the victory!!!! Unfair!!!! LOL
    ————

    And of course I sat him on my fantasy team because of his splits again Gio… and as soon as Gio comes out Grandy tears it up!

  35. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Still think the Yankees need a “tweaking” for left field, because by the time Gardner comes back, it could well be after the trading deadline when the Yankees have a good feel whether he’ll be able to stay healthy. By tweaking I’m looking for a player who can play everyday now until Gardner returns, but not cost an arm and a leg, and be a capable defender.

    Promote Mustelier or Dickerson?

    Scrap plan for Nunez to plan on being a SS and turn him into a corner OF’er? He’s been out 3 weeks now with a thumb injury. Any word on a return?

    Trade for a cheap solution?

    MTU -Here’s a possibility if going the trade route that would cost little Without looking I know you’ll guess which one it is. He’s on the Cubs and NOOOO, it’s not DeJesus!! :)

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/.....ed-johnson

  36. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 8:03 am

    YT-

    I have always liked Johnson in the role you suggest.

    He is a solid all around ballplayer.

    The only issue with him is that because he is so hard-nosed he is injury prone.

    He’s a lot like GGBG in that he likes throwing himself around the OF and has paid the price for it in the past.

  37. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Yankee Trader,

    I think it’s gotta be Mustelier or Dickerson. We’ve got the guys, might as well use them. I’d probably avoid the “shiny new toy” syndrome and roll with Dickerson, if given the choice.

  38. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Dickerson is OK if used sparingly.

    The more he plays the more his lack of hitting gets exposed.

    D is fine.

    No clue on the Cuban.

  39. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Does anyone agree that the Yankees need another corner OF’er? Nix has done a good job filling in at SS,2nd and LF. Wise has provided late inning defense and has done well as a pinch runner in close games-stealing bases. Are you happy with Jones/Ibanez sharing most of the time until, and if Gardner can come back in 6-8 weeks?

  40. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 8:15 am

    YT-

    Considering our relative position in th standing I’d be fine with the platoon until TD time.

    If they are not gonna have GGBG up and running (literally) before the TD so they can assess him then maybe they tweak it before the TD passes for insurance purposes.

    That’s my position and I’m stickin’ to it.

    ;)

  41. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I actually think that if the cost is reasonable, that Reed Johnson would be an asset because he can play all 3 OF position and he can hit for average. Granderson will need a rest, and the only capable CF’er s the light hitting Wise.

  42. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 8:19 am

    YT-

    The cost for RJ would have to be reasonable.

    He is strictly a 4th OF’er and he is not a youngster.

    I would not give up much for him.

  43. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Trader,

    I’d rather go with a platoon than go after an every day guy. If it’s not broken…

  44. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    MTU-

    Just trying to be proactive and spark some debate! BTW, I believe Bartolo Colon received his Dr Purita stem cell/PRP injection in April 2010. Will Gardner heal fast enough after getting injected with PRP’s to play this year without pain?

  45. MTU June 16th, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Yt-

    You would have better handle on that one than me.

    ;)

  46. RadioKev June 16th, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Injections for all!

  47. Yankee Trader June 16th, 2012 at 8:32 am

    New Post———–>

    MTU and Kev. I’ll attach a study on PRP injections for tennis elbow next thread.

  48. ryanm June 16th, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I think people sometimes forget that Phil is only 25 years old. A lot of great pitchers don’t figure it out until several years in.


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