Would you believe that the last time Phil Hughes allowed more than one home run in a start was all the way back on May 21? He’d actually gone eight straight without a multi-homer game, and he’d allowed a total of three home runs in his past six starts. But with Hughes — especially in this ball park — home runs are a constant threat, and they got the best of him again today.
“I can live with a couple of solo homers,” Hughes said. “But to not be able to execute in the eighth inning is really what I kind of look at in this game.”
Trevor Plouffe homered on a second-inning fastball that ran back across the plate, one of the few Hughes fastballs that did that today. Ryan Doumit’s solo homer in the seventh was a slider that might not have gotten out of most ballparks. But it was the 2-2 slider to Pedro Florimon that really put this game out of reach and turned an otherwise strong start into another disappointment for Hughes.
“I’d love to have that pitch back,” Hughes said. “I don’t think the slider was the best option there. Obviously it’s easy to say that now, but it was just a case where I’ve thrown him a lot of fastballs in the past and had some success with that. Probably poor pitch selection along with poor execution and that’s the game.”
Hughes matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts. He walked one guy. He pitched into the eighth inning. But here I am writing about the same old thing, another costly home run and another disappointing attempt to come back by the offense.
“I thought it was some of the better stuff that he had all year long,” Joe Girardi said. “… They’re not going to be perfect. They’re going to make some mistakes, that’s the bottom line. But in a game like today, you can’t.”
• In a Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio interview today, Brian Cashman acknowledged that Curtis Granderson isn’t expected back this month. “I think it’s more early August,” Cashman said. “We were hopeful that it would be more the end of July but his second surgery was a little more complicated.”
• Derek Jeter was not at the stadium today. He has a stomach bug and was home sick. He’s expected to be back tomorrow.
• The Yankees tried regain the lead in the fourth inning when Zoilo Almonte stole second base with two outs and a runner at third. Almonte was thrown out easily, and did nothing to get into a run down that would have let Vernon Wells score easily. “That’s probably my fault,” Girardi said. “That’s a situation where I assumed he understood that he shouldn’t get tagged, so I’m going to take the blame for this. He shouldn’t have gotten tagged out, and you know what happens when you assume. We had the run. If he stops, we had the run.”
• Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight straight games with his RBI single in the first inning. He’s hitting .400 with seven RBI during the streak.
• Ichiro Suzuki was the only Yankees players with more than one hit. This was the 1,999th game of his Major League career.
• More on Hughes: He’s pitched pretty well lately, and he said his stuff today was about as good as it’s been all year. “It was up there,” he said. “I felt like (I was) mixing my fastball to both sides of the plate. I felt like my slider was probably the best it’s been all season; got a lot of strikeouts early with that. … “I feel like the last few times out I’ve felt pretty good with what I was doing, and to be honest, it didn’t really change today, just felt like maybe there were a few more balls over the middle of the plate.”
• Last time Hughes struck out 10 in a game was April 21, 2010 in Oakland.
• Hughes had struck out Ryan Doumit twice with sliders, and he went back to the slider on a 2-2 pitch in the seventh. That one was a home run. “It’s easy to look back and say I threw the wrong pitch there,” Hughes said. “But I think on the replay he was out in front a little bit, it’s just that he got the good part of the bat on it and right field is what it is.”
• All three Twins home runs came on 2-2 pitches with one out.
• This was Military Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. It also marked the third anniversary of George Steinbrenner’s death.
• Good news and bad news out of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Melky Mesa has been activated from the disabled list, and Francisco Rondon has been promoted from Double-A. But Jose Ramirez and David Huff have each been added to the DL.
• Final word goes to Hughes: “The frustrating part is one or two mistakes being my undoing the last few times out, and I feel like I’m throwing the ball pretty well. In a tight game like that, maybe caught a break with the dribble up the line and then trying to get out of that inning and leave a slider over the plate. It’s been frustrating. I guess the one thing I can say is I felt good with my stuff over the last three or four starts, and after the All-Star break that’s something I can continue to build on.”
Associated Press photos