Following the New York Yankees 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night, manager Joe Girardi announced to the media after the game that he will go back to Phil Hughes for the team's series finale on Thursday night.
Hughes was taken out of the rotation after his last start made back on September 2 against the Chicago White Sox where he only pitched 1.1 innings, but that was due to a rain delay and was removed from the game. After that game, Girardi had put Hughes in the bullpen and gave David Huff his start against the Boston Red Sox this past Saturday, but Huff was awful for the Yankees in a 13-9 loss at Yankee Stadium.
The last time Hughes pitched against the Orioles goes all the way back to May 21 at Camden Yards; a game where he went six innings and allowed just two runs over five hits and took a no decision in a 3-2 loss. If the Yankees can get that kind of production out of Hughes in Thursday night's game, they will certainly take it and be thrilled considering he's been downright horrible in 2013.
Hughes is 4-13 with a 5.11 ERA in 27 starts for the Yankees, but hasn't won a start for the team since July 2 against the Minnesota Twins. Since then, Hughes is 0-6 in his last 10 starts and even in his relief appearance last week against Boston, still looked terrible in a 10-8 loss at Yankee Stadium.
But none of that matters right now, because for the 27-year-old Hughes, all that matters to him is the start on Thursday against the Orioles and trying to get the Yankees past the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card standings, who are currently one game back of their American League East rival.
If there is one thing Hughes can do in the game against Baltimore above all else, it is avoid the home run ball and keep it in the ballpark. In 27 appearances, Hughes has allowed 23 and if the Yankees want any shot of getting to October baseball, they can't have Hughes serving up meatballs to the Orioles big hitters, who will easily deposit mistakes into the seats.
Since Huff wasted his one start for the Yankees last week, if Hughes were able to show the team that he could be counted on, it could help get him another start in the future and might salvage a little bit of a reputation that has been squashed with a lousy 2013 season. However, if Hughes struggles at any point in the game, Girardi did say that Huff will pitch in long relief and he won't hesitate to remove Hughes from the game, which just shows how every single game in the 16 left on the schedule is seen as so critical to the Yankees.
For Yankees Universe, here's to hoping Hughes has at least one decent start left in that right arm of his on Thursday night.
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