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.
After losing four in a row to the Mets, and five games overall, the Yankees (31-23) got a much needed 4-1 victory of the rival Boston Red Sox. They are now one game behind Boston for first place in the AL East.
In three out of the last four games the Yankees only scored one run against the suspect Mets’ pitching staff. Jon Lester, who has a 3.53 ERA, turned out to the pitcher who would bring the bats to life. This was the game that first baseman, Mark Teixeira, and third baseman, Kevin Youkilis, finally made their return from injury.
In his season debut, Teixeira went 0-3 but did score a run after getting a walk in the second. The team has not been drawing walks recently so Teixeira’s ability to do so, in addition to his power, will definitely help. Teixeira usually struggles during the first month of the season so hopefully he will be able to hit like it is June. The team can’t have him take a month to start to hit like in past seasons. This is because once he gets in his groove he is one of the best hitters in baseball.
In Youkilis’s first game action since April 27, he was able to g0 1-4. His single drove in Ichiro Suzuki for the team’s third run of the game. His return from the disabled list will move David Adams into a reserve role. Adams started out hitting well but is now in the middle of a slump.
Ichiro went 2-3 with two runs scored and an RBI during the night game at Yankee Stadium and is showing signs of hitting like he did last season. He is now nine for his last 24, which is a .375 average. The Yankees need him to hit for a high average and score runs so that he can be a spark plug at the bottom of the lineup.
Also, just as importantly as Teixeira and Youkilis helping the offense is that CC Sabathia returned to his dominating ways. Sabathia has been the ace of the staff since 2009 but has struggled a little recently. He came into the game 0-2 with a 4.86 ERA in his last five starts (he had actually allowed two runs or less in three of those starts).
It appears that with this start Sabathia is continuing his trent of pitching better as the temperature rises. He also tied his season high of 10 strikeouts in the game against the Red Sox.
In the 7:05 p.m. game tonight on FOX, Phil Hughes will pitch for the Yankees (2-3, 4.97 ERA) and Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.29 ERA) will pitch for Boston. Hughes is coming off two successful starts where he allowed two runs or less in both outings so hopefully he will help the team start a winning streak.
Also, in other news, Curtis Granderson is donating $5 million to help his alma mater, University of Illinois-Chicago, build a new baseball stadium. The total cost to build the stadium is $7 million. It is great that even though Granderson has twice been the victim of bad luck as a result of being hit by a pitch, he continues to make a difference everywhere that he can.
The catching position has become a position of need for the Yankees as a result of Francisco Cervelli going on the 60-day disabled list with a fractured wrist. He will likely not be back until sometime in July. The current starter, Chris Stewart, has one hit in his last nine at bats. He started the season off hitting well in limited action backing up Cervelli, but Stewart is now batting only .256 in 15 games.
Austin Romine, who was called up from AAA Scranton when Cervelli went on the disabled list, is similar to Romine in that he is more known for his defense than his offensive ability. Ideally, the catcher should be able to help the team in both facets. Romine has always been a quality prospect since he was a second round pick by the team in 2007, was a participant in the All-Star Futures Game in 2010 and was voted the organization’s second best prospect in 2010.
Joe Giradi has not had much confidence in playing Romine, which will mean that Stewart could become less and less reliable. Stewart is also best suited to be a reserve. This is why it hurt the Yankees so much when Cervelli was injured last week because he was having a solid all around season.
However, Romine clearly has not developed like the team thought he would. It is still possible that he will, but Romine is now 24, and the Yankees have other quality catching prospects in the minor leagues, which means that it is worth exploring other options. He has only hit .136 in his at bats that he has had with the team in 2011 and 2013. However, the Yankees might be able to find a team who will believe that his offensive abilities will turn around.
The Yankees should target Nick Hundley, who is the starting catcher for the San Diego Padres. The Padres, who are currently 13-18 and in last place in the NL West, will be looking to sell and not buy leading up to the trade deadline. Ideally, the Yankees will acquire a catcher in the beginning of June.
Candidates to be traded for Nick Hundley include David Adams and Corban Joseph, who are currently second baseman for the AAA RailRiders, since All-Star Robinson Cano who will be their second baseman for a long time. Austin Romine could also be included in the trade since he might fare better in a less pressurized environment. The Padres need all of the prospects that they can get.
The Padres also have Yasmani Grandal, who is their catcher of the future, who hit .297 in 60 games last season for San Diego, so it would make sense for the Padres to trade Hundley. Grandal could return as the starting catcher when he is eligible to return from his 50-game suspension. Hundley is hitting .297 with three homers so far this season.
Hundley hit .288 in 2011, after a sub-par 2012 that saw Grandal play instead, and is showing signs of being more consistent.