Hughes picks up first win: Yankees 4, Athletics 2

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Weather-wise today is probably one of the nicest days we’ve seen here in the Northeast so far in 2013 and baseball-wise, Phil Hughes easily had his best performance of 2013.

He pitched eight scoreless innings, gave up only four hits, walked two batters, struck out nine and 82 of his 118 pitches were strikes. Better yet, his velocity was hovering around the 93-94 mark in some spots. He pitched like a guy who had confidence in his stuff and after not lasting past the fourth inning in his first two starts, Hughes has lasted longer in his past four starts – today’s included. His shortest outing was his six innings against Toronto on April 28. The two starts prior, he pitched seven innings. He’s also striking out more batters. He had nine in his last start as well.

Offensively, the Yankees were aided by two home runs, one by Chris Stewart and the other by Lyle Overbay. I know, it’s really unbelievable what these guys are doing. Every time you think, okay, the other shoe is going to drop and the Yankees will start losing games, someone provides a spark and they win.

Travis Hafner also contributed with an RBI single in the sixth off A’s starter and old friend, Bartolo Colon. He picked up the loss and left the game after that Hafner single with the Yanks up 3-0. Brett Gardner made the score 4-0 in the seventh with an RBI single which scored Eduardo Nunez who had tripled and lost his helmet somewhere between first and second. I swear, I was going to keep a “Nunez Helmet Tally” in the sidebar of the website this season and I am mad I didn’t do it.

Things got slightly dicey in the ninth inning after Shawn Kelley couldn’t close out the game or, you know, get an out and Joe Girardi had to call on Mariano Rivera for the non-save situation. Rivera gave up a single to Seth Smith and the run was credited to Kelley, who had allowed Yoenis Cespedes on base to lead off the inning. Josh Reddick grounded into a force out that probably could have been a double play and that also allowed Josh Donaldson to score to cut the Yankee lead to 4-2.

Thankfully, Mo closed it out with no further damage and Hughes picked up his first win of the season.

Hughes has really picked things up lately. In his last four starts, he has only given up six runs, has allowed five walks and he struck out 30 batters.

Some notes:

  • Robinson Cano hit career double No. 344 which ties him with Mickey Mantle for eighth place on the team’s all-time list.
  • Overbay’s home run was his 5th of the year. He hit four last year.
  • The Yankees are 10-0 when scoring first this year.
  • Hughes’ ERA was 4.67 when today’s game started. After his eight shut out innings, it dropped to 3.60.
  • From Jeff Quagliata: Hughes is now 9-0 when he strikes out 8 batters or more in a game (in 10 starts) and the Yankees are now 10-0 in those games.

Stacey is co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money, co-host of the It's About The Money, Stupid podcast and is a monthly contributor to ESPN's SweetSpot Blog. She is a former contributor at Aerys Sports and High Heat Stats. She has contributed to group projects at Baseball: Past And Present and the Hall of Stats. Her work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly and most recently, she wrote four pieces for Derek Jeter: Celebrating the Yankees' Captain Clutch, a magazine printed by i5 Publishing.