Phil Hughes, who has a 4.55 ERA on the season, pitched his second solid start in a row helping the Yankees beat the Twins 7-3 for their second win in a row. After scoring only eight runs in the three-game sweep to the Orioles, the Yankees have now scored 17 runs in their past two games.
Joe Girardi has repeatedly said that he has confidence in Hughes and has said that it is important for the team for him to pitch well. The Twins are not the caliber of competition that the Yankees face in the AL East, but Hughes did limit the Twins to one run in seven innings while only allowing two walks.
Hughes proved to be able to overcome adversity in this game because in the fourth inning the Twins had runners on second and third with no outs and Hughes was able get three outs in a row.
In his last start, against the Rangers, Hughes allowed two runs in eight innings, so it is possible that he is starting to turn the corner. Another factor that could have led to Hughes pitching well tonight against the Twins is that he has a 3.33 ERA against them in his career.
If he can regain the form that he showed in 2010, when he won 18 games, was an All-Star and had a 4.19 ERA, he would be an asset to the team in the second half of the season. Two solid starts in a row is obviously a small sample size, but Hughes has shown the ability to dominate starts in between allowing five or six runs in a start.
Just for good measure, since Preston Claiborne gave up two runs and didn’t dominate like normal, Mariano Rivera recorded the last out of the game for his 27th save of the campaign.
There were two different offensive positives from this game. One was Robinson Cano’s continued excellence and the other was the sudden emergence of the left side of the infield.
Cano went 2-4 with one homer and three RBI. Since going 0-2 on June 27, Cano’s average has raised from .276 to .295 in the span of five games. He has gone 11 for his last 21, has five straight multi-hit games and has driven the ball out of the park in three straight games. Robinson Cano is the leading vote getter for American League second baseman in the All-Star Game voting.
For the majority of the season the shortstop and third base positions have struggled offensively for the Yankees, but that was not the case for this win at Target Field. Alberto Gonzalez (.200) and David Adams (.189) combined to go 4-8, and Gonzalez, who had only had 21 at-bats with the team so far this season, drove in three clutch runs.
The Yankees (44-39) need to win the last two games against the Twins (36-44) to continue to make up ground in the competitive AL East. CC Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees on Wednesday night. Sabathia will hope that the Twins are the team that he needs to rebound from a shaky previous two starts.