Even if the Yankees had switched to CC Sabathia on short rest for tonight’s game, they were still going to need Phil Hughes at some point.
“There’s always pressure that comes with every start,” Hughes said. “I don’t really feel like I can, you know, sort of feel any added pressure just because of the circumstances. I just have to go out there and pitch, that’s all it boils down to. Not really worry about being down 0 2, that Verlander is on the mound, that we don’t have our captain. Those sort of things are going to be wasted energy, and all I really want to focus on is the Detroit Tigers lineup and doing the absolute best job I can do.”
Hughes’ two starts at Comerica Park this season were a pretty good snapshot of the highs and lows of his yaer. In August, he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. In June, he threw the first complete game of his career.
“You can’t really look at those two starts and take a whole lot away from them coming into this start,” Hughes said. “I just have to hope that I have good stuff and good command and attack the strike zone like I normally do, and I think we’ll have some good success.”
Clearly Hughes is hoping for more of that June start and less of the August start.
“I remember I actually started off a little bit slow in that (complete game) start,” he said. “It was kind of a struggle for me to get going — almost similar to my last start against Baltimore (in the division series) — and then I remember I got stronger as the game went on and I was able to command the ball a little bit better. So hopefully (tonight) there’s a little bit of a similarity in the fact that I can command the ball and hopefully command it early and often. It’s a tough lineup, and I’m going to have to be on top of my game, but I have confidence that I will be, and I look forward to it.”
Hard to write anything about this game without mentioning the Yankees offense. Here’s Hughes on the lineup’s struggles:
“As a pitcher sitting on the bench, I am not used to seeing it either,” Hughes said. “We are a team that is a high-powered offense. We get a lot of home runs and things like that. But anytime you are going through these struggles, as pitchers, we take it as we have to step up and do a better job and put up a bunch of zeros because we know we can scratch and claw and put together a couple of runs. As long as our pitchers do a stand up job, we know we will have a chance to win the game.
“I think it is a challenge for our pitchers and we’ll have to do a really good job and have the confidence that we will score at least a few runs, and hopefully a bunch, and turn this thing around.”
Associated Press photo