Yankees' rookie right-hander Phil Hughes saved our ass yesterday, throwing three-and-a-third shutout innings after our horse, veteren Roger Clemens, had to leave due to leg/arm/old-age problems. At least Clemens went out with a K, if his career is to end with that outing. Hughes, a 21-year-old kid came off the bench with the Yanks down 0-2, and when Joba came to relieve him, the Yanks were up 8-3. (The run he gave up was a guy Clemens' put on base). They won 8-4.
Hughes, who was kind of hot-and-cold this year for the Yanks, struck out four and walked none, which are the kind of strike-out-to-walk numbers he put up consistently in the minors before his call up. Big clutch performance last night.
It was good to see because Hughes seemed like a class act when he visited Erie a couple years ago. He was pitching for Trenton, the Yankees' double-A team, and threw five scoreless innings against the Seawolves in the first game of a doubleheader. He was pretty well known then as "a phenom," and to accomadate the fans, between games, he stood against the wall next to the Thunder dugout and made himself available for autographs. He must have signed at least 50, but was polite and took his time with each one. We were near the end of the line, and he signed my son's mitt for him and made the usual small talk. My son used the mitt all year, we used to joke that is was a Philip Hughes autograph model. We also used to joke, that Joey had a better year pitching than Hughes, well, until now.
Tonight the Yanks are coming back with Wang, on three-days rest, going against Paul Byrd, the veteran journeyman right-hander for the Tribe. I'll go on record as saying I'm in favor of the Wang move. He usually pitches on four days rest and got shelled in the opener Thursday. However, he's a sinkerball specialist, so he doesn't necessarily have to throw hard to be effective. Sometimes, they say overthrowing, like when you're pumped up for the playoffs, can harm a sinkerballer. Plus, he's been a much better pitcher at home this year than on the road and tonight is our final home game of the series either way. Byrd, with his old school wind-up is fun to watch, but tonight I'll be cheering for the Yanks to hit him.
A final note: The heart of the Yankes line-up Jeter, A-Rod, and Posada, primarily, have very much struggled, but, as I've said all year, the bottom of our line-up with Cano and Melkey, and Matsu last night, has to be the strongest bottom-third in the league. Of course, Damon's strong game at the top of the order dovetailed into a good performance by the bottom third and helped us produce 8 runs. Eight runs is good, and I'd like to see a total like that again tonight.