Seems reasonable to wonder whether Phil Hughes just made his final start with the Yankees, but it also seems too early to say he definitely has.
“Right now he’s in our rotation,” Joe Girardi told reporters postgame in Toronto. “We haven’t talked about taking him out of our rotation. I think he had a walk that scored, a couple of walks hurt him today, but we didn’t make the play behind him. It looks a lot different if it’s three runs in five innings.”
True, but starts like tonight’s have been all too common with Hughes. David Huff has pitched well in two consecutive long relief outings, and Hughes remains unable to find any sort of consistency. He’s had some quality starts recently — perfectly winable games his previous two times out — but he’s also lasted fewer than five innings in four of his past six starts.
“He pitched really well (in those previous two starts),” Girardi said. “Obviously you’re thinking all the time.”
It’s hard to remember this, but from May 21 to July 23, Hughes went 11 starts with a 3.38 ERA. That’s an extended stretch with pretty good results. There have been good moments for Hughes, but it’s hard to have confidence from night to night. There’s talent, but there’s also an ERA that’s very nearly climbed over 5.00.
“It’s a battle every day,” Hughes said. “I feel like my stuff is good right now, and I can lean on that at least. But it’s a grind, and I have to find a way to turn this thing around. Now is an important time for this ball club, and if I step up and do the job I’m supposed to, what’s been a horrible season I can at least make amends for a little bit. That’s kind of what I think about.”
• During the postgame show on YES Network, Derek Jeter told reporters that he fully expects to play tomorrow. “No problems,” he said. Jeter said he expects to be able to play shortstop again without need of a DH day.
• Ichiro Suzuki on his fifth inning error when he jumped for a fly ball and let it bounce off his glove: “If I could have just gone straight home from right field, I would have. I was that embarrassed.”
• Girardi said indicated that Hughes’ outing would be evaluated differently if not for the Ichiro error, but Hughes didn’t use that as an excuse. “Errors are part of the game and I have to find a way to get out of that inning and battle right there, and I didn’t do the job,” Hughes said. “… I couldn’t really make a pitch after that.”
• One significant difference between this start and Hughes’ past two starts: “I left a lot of sliders over the middle of the plate today,” he said. “… I probably threw too many sliders in predictable counts and it wasn’t sharp.”
• Hughes said he doesn’t think about whether he might lose his rotation spot. “I don’t think about those things,” he said. “I worry about what I can do every day I’m given the ball. Those type of things aren’t really a concern for me at this point.”
• Alex Rodriguez had the solo home run, but the Yankees ultimately went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. “That’s the difference,” Girardi said. “We didn’t get the hits with runners in scoring position.”
• The final word is a back-and-forth between Girardi and Sweeny Murti that was aired on YES. Sweeny asked what goes into a potential rotation change. “Thought,” Girardi said. Thoughts about what? “If it’s time to make a change, you think about it,” Girardi said. “You think about who you’re facing, what’s a better matchup, and those type of things.”
Associated Press photos