Four games into the season, the Yankees are starting to improvise a little bit.
Phil Hughes was supposed to make a rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow. He will instead fly to Detroit to help out a big league pitching staff depleted by short starts from Hiroki Kuroda (who had a decent excuse) and Ivan Nova (who really didn’t).
“In a perfect world, they wanted me to get one more rehab start,” Hughes told Mark Feinsand. “But it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m ready.”
Understandably, much of the early focus has been on the Yankees banged-up offense, but the pitching staff has also taken a bit of a beating. Andy Pettitte’s eight innings provided a much-needed breather on Wednesday, but the other three games have been five innings from CC Sabathia, 1.1 innings from Kuroda and today’s 4.2 innings from Nova. Shawn Kelley has already pitched three times this season, Adam Warren threw 5.1 innings two days ago, and Cody Eppley has struggled since spring training.
Hughes will come up to start, likely pushing David Phelps into the bullpen to serve as the just-in-case long man that the Yankees wouldn’t have had otherwise. Still no word on who’s going down, but Warren, Kelley and Eppley all have options.
“You can’t have too many guys go down, that’s for sure,” Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees really seem to be testing that theory.
• Just because quotes like this usually generate an interesting reaction, here’s what Nova had to say about his day of 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1 HBP: “Personally, I don’t feel like I pitched that bad. I was throwing a lot of balls and getting into too deep counts, but it’s the first start of the year. … I’m not throwing strikes. It has nothing to do with mechanics. It’s just one of those games where you feel good but you’re not able to throw strikes.”
• Here’s Girardi’s take on Nova’s start: “He got in a lot of long counts, which really got his pitch count up in a hurry. He had to work really hard to get to where he was at. When you get in those long counts, those 3-1 and 3-2, they’re going to be able to put some pretty good swings on you and your pitch count is going to grow quickly. That’s what happened today.”
• Check out the location of Boone Logan’s fastball that Prince Fielder hit for a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth. Now, here’s where Logan was trying to throw the ball: “Down and away,” Logan said. “It was way out of the zone anyway, but he still got to it regardless. No telling what he would’ve did if I did locate the fastball down and away, regardless. I think he was just sitting on it anyway. It was just a bad pitch.”
• Kevin Youkilis hit his first Yankees home run in the top of the fifth, and it gave the Yankees a short-lived 3-2 lead. The Yankees had one more hit after that (and none in the final four innings). The Tigers scored six runs after the Youkilis homer (including three in the final four innings).
• Any chance Logan is a little behind after a spring training that was shortened by that elbow issue? “No, not at all,” Logan said. “I’m ready. Everything’s where it should be. Just a bad performance today.”
• Was Nova trying to hit Cabrera after Nunez was plunked? “Just trying to move him back,” Nova said. “He’s a veteran guy. He can move more than that, but he took it.”
• Girardi has been asked this question a lot, and he hasn’t liked it any of those times. Is his goal to simply survive the month of April? “To win, bottom line,” Girardi said. “I’ve been asked this question a few times. It’s to win games. I still believe we have a team that can go out and play well and win games. That’s our goal.”
Associated Press photos