I did turn the game back on in the seventh, just in time to hear Hughes retire the side in order and in impressive fashion and then arrived at my New Jersey destination just in time to see that the Yankees Overmanager decided to remove him for eighth. Let's do a quick recap bullet point style:
- The HRs continue to fly out of the park: Teix, Swish, Damon and Jeter for the Yanks, Kapler for the Rays, running the total to 105 through 29 games. By contrast, last year there were 160 in 81 Yankee Stadium games. Yes it's still early, but it's getting later by the day. This trend has yet to show any signs of slowing down.
- Pettitte turned in what is becoming a characteristic performance for him. As Girardi like to say, he bent but didn't break. We don't know if his back has anything to do with it; there was a trainer's visit to the mound in the third. It could be though, that this is what we're going to see from Andy Pettitte at this point in his career - which isn't the worst thing in the world. He still eats up innings and generally gives them a chance to win. It isn't pretty, but he seems to do enough to get by. That's not the worst thing in the world from a back-end starter.
- Hughes was impressive: a perfect inning on 11 pitches, 7 of them strikes. Facing the top of the order, he induced two groundball outs then blew away Mrs. Tony Parker on a 94 MPH fastball.
- Inexplicably, Hughes did not return for the eighth. I'm furious about this. He's a soon-to-be 23 year-old starter who needs innings. As I've stated previously, I'm not opposed to him being in the pen, but he needs to be used. Otherwise he's going to lose arm strength and be at risk for yet another injury when they actually choose to use him again. I'd rather have him start in Scranton if he's just going to rot in the pen. It's June 9th; Hughes has thrown exactly 11 pitches this month.
- I understand that the dangerous Carlos Pena was leading off the eighth in a one run game. I understand that Joe Girardi has a man crush on Phil Coke. I think Coke is a pretty decent pitcher. But I would have left Hughes in.
- The only possible explanation I can think of is that they wanted to save Hughes in case they needed to piggy-back him on Wang Wednesday. But if you keep saving your bullets, eventually you're left with a loaded gun and a bunch of bullet holes in your chest. If the level of confidence in Wang is that low, it's only further evidence as to how badly his return was botched. And, I think Girardi has show that in the event a starter exits early, Aceves is his pitcher of choice.
- Perhaps more curious than Hughes not getting the ball in the 8th was Mo getting the ball in the 9th for the third straight day. Now I didn't have a problem with Mo coming in Saturday, until it was revealed that he was sick. He had a very efficient ninth on Sunday (1-2-3, 10 pitches, 8 strikes) and was nearly as efficient yesterday: 1-2-3, 11 pitches, 7 strikes. I guess that puts to rest the rumors of his demise. Again. However, he's now thrown 42 pitches over three straight days and will likely not be available for tonight's opener in Boston. Great job Joe.