Chalk it up to pure frustration as I still think Hughes has more potential that can only be found through very hard work.
Regardless, I always give credit when credit is due and last night Hughes threw a 7-inning gem vs. the Tampa Bay Rays, which definitely qualifies as praiseworthy.
The Yankees needed to avoid hitting a three game losing streak, and Hughes stepped in and set the momentum from the get-go.
Hughes went seven full innings but got tagged for two earned runs, with six strikeouts and two walks. He threw 109 pitches in total and 78 were strikes but the best news is the ball stayed in the park, excuse me dome, all night.
Now, if you look at Hughes’ stats from his last outing against Arizona, they are almost identical with the exception of two homers hit by the D-backs.
The fact that hitters go deep on Hughes a ton is not some new revelation, as this guy gave up the second most homers in the AL in 2012 with 35. And as a fly ball pitcher it is challenging to call the bandbox of Yankee Stadium your home, but nonetheless Hughes needs to figure out a way to have more outings like last night.
The only solution here is for Hughes to get his home-run numbers down, as the results are the difference between a win and a loss. Enough said.
In my humble opinion, this was one of Hughes’ best starts since pre-2010 All Star Break because of all the dynamics surrounding it.
Here are a few:
– Ace CC Sabathia gave up three homers, and got tagged for five earned runs the night before. Pressure on Hughes skyrocketed after that loss.
– The Rays came in to game hot, and were looking to extend their a four game winning streak.
– In general the Yankees stink at Tropicana Field, as they were 2-7 in the dome in 2012.
– Hughes came into the game with a 6.43 ERA, giving up five homers and 10 earned runs in three starts. So obviously he was not pitching very well. That fact made last nights outing extremely reassuring to see as a fan.
– Hughes had no Spring Training and no rehab start after suffering from a bulging disk in his back so any struggling would be almost right.
The bottom line is with Sabathia dealing with diminished velocity, along with all the injuries and maintaining a healthy bullpen, the Yankees need Hughes from last night big time.
Now the question remains, can Hughes perform at a high level consistently.