Has there been a more enjoyable storyline in the 2010 season than the emergence of Phil Hughes as a reliable -- and so far, rather dominating -- component of the Yankees' starting rotation? Sure, Robbie Cano's hot start has been a blast, but considering that many of us have been waiting for consistent brilliance from Phil for quite some time, it's been extraordinarily satisfying to watch him carve Major League lineups up through his first four starts.
Granted, four starts is still a small sample size, and Phil will not finish the year with a 1.44 ERA (currently good for second-best in the American League!), but this has been by far his best stretch as a Yankee starter, and hopefully he can continue to contribute quality outings every five days.
As if seven shutout innings from Hughes wasn't enough, the Yankee bats came alive Sunday afternoon, pounding the White Sox 12-3 on the strength of a season-high 16 hits. Mark "The New Mr. May" Teixeira went 4-5 on the day with two runs batted in, Robbie Cano blasted a three-run bomb that began to put the game out of reach for the ChiSox, and even Brett Gardner got in on the power action, belting his first home run of the year.
Nick the Stick also picked up an RBI double, just as I was about to officially begin worrying about him. Stick's still got work to do, but once he finally busts out we should be in for a treat. For what it's worth, entering today's games Johnson was at a .304 wOBA while his successor Hideki Matsui stood at .353. I imagine many casual Yankee fans are beginning to wish the Yankees had taken Batsui back -- however, ZIPS Update has Johnson finishing at .360, with Matsui at .358. Be nice to see that work out.
The only blight on the Yankees' afternoon was a three-run home run surrendered by Mark Melancon in the top of the 9th. Obviously it didn't matter what with a 12-run lead and all, but it's important for Melancon to eventually be able to consistently get Major League hitters out if he's going to end up being the effective bullpen piece he's been touted as for a few years now.
The Yankees won their seventh series in eight tries to push their record to 16-8, second-best in the American League.
Also, prepare yourself for some "Donnie Darko"-style wormhole action, because the end is nigh as the Orioles somehow swept the Red Sox this weekend. Yes, you read that correctly. This hasn't happened in Baltimore since 1974. Also great to see the Orioles get that whole playing-above-their-heads thing out of their system as they had to the Bronx for a three-game bludgeoning starting Monday night.