Phil Hughes kid can pitch a little bit, eh?
Phil was everything the Yankees could've hoped for and more in his first career postseason start and the Yankees' 6-1 American League Division Series Game 3 clinching victory, tossing seven shutout innings of four-hit, six strikeout ball. Hughes was actually perfect through three before surrendering a leadoff base hit to Denard Span, but Span was quickly erased by a double play. In what was his third-best outing of the season in terms of WPA -- .294 -- Hughes came up aces, turning in the best outing of the Yankees' three starters (who would've thought CC Sabathia would record the shakiest turn?) and significantly easing fears that the team's playoff rotation was "Sabathia and pray for rain."
On the offensive side of the ledger the Yankees attacked early and often, getting on the board in the second inning after Jorge Posada knocked in Robinson Cano -- who had tripled -- with two outs; in the third after a Mark Teixeria knocked a Nick Swisher double in; and in the fourth, on a Marcus Thames two-run bomb to right-center that put the Yankees ahead 4-0 and may well have been the kill shot to the Twins' 2010 season. The Yankees would add two more on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly (how often does that happen?) and a Nick Swisher solo home run for some insurance in the seventh off Scott Baker. All told the Yanks knocked Brian Duensing out after 3 1/3 innings, lighting him up for five earned runs.
Hughes was barely in trouble all night, and worked out of every jam he faced. Meanwhile, Kerry Wood tried to make things interesting in the eighth, giving up three hits -- all with two strikes -- and a walk that resulted in the Twins' first run of the game and a bases-loaded, no-out situation. Joe Girardi went to Boone Logan to get the lefty Jason Kubel, who promptly popped out to third, and David Robertson coaxed a Delmon Young flyout to end the threat. Mariano Rivera came on to the usual thunderous hometown applause and retired Jim Thome, Michael Cuddyer and Danny Valencia on order to lock up the win. (YES Network screengrab courtesy of friend-of-the-blog Lenny).
Yankee fans need to root hard for the Rays-Rangers game to go the distance now, to ensure that both teams have to burn David Price and Cliff Lee in a decisive Game 5 on Tuesday, which would likely mean that those teams would not be able to use their ace until ALCS Game 3, unless they were willing to start 'em on three days rest in Game 2.
also in attendance at his first one, in Game 3 of the 2007 ALDS against the Indians, with the team's season on the line. Last night I was fortunate enough to sit in the best seats I've ever had at new Yankee Stadium, and getting to watch Hughes simply own the Twins from a mere 17 rows back -- while of course wearing my "HUGHES 65" name-and-number tee -- was a memory I'll never forget.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Hughes brilliant in first career postseason start, tosses seven shutout innings as Yankees sweep Twins in ALDS for second straight year
by Larry Koestler