The Yankees, had their third game against the Angels, all players around the majors were wearing #42 honoring Jackie Robinson, who was the first African-American to play professional baseball. Robinson is still the meaning of courage, and a well deserving annual tradition in MLB.
It was a chilly Thursday night in the Bronx, but the Bombers wrapped up their third series win, beating the Halos 6-2 and 2-1 in games.
To be perfectly honest, the point that Phil Hughes was starting on the mound was not particularly comforting. It had less to do regarding Hughes’s technique, and it is more about his potential to utilize it.
Why the fear?
Looking back on the last decade, the debate between home-grown vs. paying well established all-stars proved, in a landslide victory, that organizational born players familiarity with the club and each other won games. Underneath this discussion it was Epstein vs. Cashman’s theories on success. After 2004 season, the Yankees finally caved.
So when Hughes, along with his buddy Joba Chamberlain, made surreptitious appearances in 2007 containing delight in Yankee Universe was impossible. These two prospects were the real deal, and the baseball world knew it.
Jump to 2008, which was a problem for Hughes, sending him to Triple AAA for losing five of his first six starts. Regardless, in September Hughes came back for two starts, won both and gained some street credit back.
Obviously it was not enough to reach into 2009, as Hughes got tossed around carelessly. The spotlight was not as polite to Hughes as it was to Joba in any sense. That freedom from coercion was just what the doctor ordered, as Hughes coming out of the bullpen played a vital role in turning chumps into champs.
See Hughes’s ego is modest, similar to Mike Mussina. Difference is Moose didn’t have the hype, NYC pressures and expectations in his younger days.
Personally, I didn’t know how Hughes would fair. He won the never-ending Spring Training starter battle simply which was accomplished. Then having Hughes miss his first start for further practice, followed by the enthusiastic roar from the Yankees on his lights-out simulation game started to bother me.
I don’t care who you are, simulation is not reality, and this was in every newspaper for days.
Sometimes being proven wrong for the better is great, and Hughes did just that.
Phil Hughes pitched through six innings, allowing only one run to score, struck out six, and only got pulled for the 109 pitch-count due to walks. Keep in mind that the Angels line-up draw walks, and maintain a reputation for going deep into pitch counts, so no reason for concern.
Starting out strong, especially after Vazquez’s treatment from the night before, Hughes looks set, together and is where he should be, FINALLY! The fans greeted him with a well-deserved standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.