So, Phil Hughes.
The Yankee righthander authored his best outing of the season by far, throwing six innings of two-run ball, scattering four hits, walking two and striking out five, and was able to notch his first quality start since September 26, 2010, against Boston, in one of last season’s more pivotal games down the stretch, leading the Yankees to a 7-2 win over Toronto and a split of this weekend’s four-game set. This was Hughes’ first win as a starting pitcher since September 21, 2010.
The good news: Hughes had his best four-seamer in a long time, throwing it between 91-93, picking up strikes 67% of the time — including a big six swing-and-misses — and racking up -1.3526 linear weights. If you placed that linear weights score among his 2010 starts, it would have actually been his 10th-best.
The better news: After all the talk this past week about Hughes reverting to his former curveball grip, he more than backed up his word, as his -1.1172 linear weights on the curve today was better than every single start he made in 2010.
The so-so news: Several of the fly-outs Hughes yielded to right field looked like they might have been home runs in Yankee Stadium — at least off the bat — and it also seemed like fly balls were simply dying out in right. They weren’t home runs, and so no harm no foul, but if this outing took place in the Bronx it may have looked a tad different. I’ll be interested to see the spray chart once TexasLeaguers.com updates tomorrow.
That being said, it’s difficult to be anything but encouraged by this outing from Hughes, considering how ineffective he’d been in his previous four outings this season, not to mention the fact that the Blue Jays are a dangerous offensive team even without Jose Bautista. He appeared to be far more in command and didn’t unravel the moment he began to approach anything resembling danger. Hughes obviously still has a long way to go, but this is a great step in the right direction. Now he needs to do it again.
On offense the Yankees kept chipping away at Carlos Villanueva, and were paced by three RBI from Curtis Granderson. Nick Swisher picked up two hits, and Russell Martin broke a 1-1 tie in the 4th with a big RBI double, and Cory Wade, David Robertson and Boone Logan(!) combined for three perfect innings as the Yanks would never look back.