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By Hook Or By Rook
2007-09-11 21:41
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Phil Hughes looked awful in the first two innings of last night's 9-2 win in Toronto. He was missing Jorge Posada's target by several feet and needed some big plays in the field to escape some serious damage early on. With the bases loaded and two-outs in the first, Aaron Hill laced a grounder up the middle but Hughes managed to swat it down and get the out at first to escape the jam unscathed. With men on first and second and none out in the second, Hughes benefited from an unusual 8-5 fielder's choice courtesy of Melky Cabrera's arm on a flare to center that forced the runners to hold up, and a spectacular diving catch by Johnny Damon on a ball laced into the left field gap. Those plays prevented the Jays from advancing and delivered Hughes two crucial outs. A subsequent single by Russ Adams and a two-base error by Cabrera throwing behind the runner at second (his throw skipped past the bag and rolled into the Yankee dugout) plated both runners, but Hughes got Alex Rios to ground out and shut the door from there, allowing only one base runner on an error by Alex Rodriguez (a bobble) over his final four innings to turn in his second straight six-inning, two-run quality start. Hughes still wasn't all the great even in those later innings, however. He was still frequently missing Posada's target. He only struck out one man all night, that being Vernon Wells leading off the first, and of those last 12 outs, only three of them came on the ground.

It was enough, however, as the Yanks touched up Shawn Marcum for eight runs in 4 1/3 innings, the big shot being an opposite field grand slam by Jason Giambi in the fifth, his first homer in 35 plate appearances. Edwar Ramirez pitched around a pair of singles for a pair of scoreless innings in relief of Hughes, striking out five of the eight men he faced. Ross Ohlendorf then made his major league debut with a 1-2-3 inning that started with a strikeout of Lyle Overbay and concluded with a pair of grounders to fellow member of the Randy Johnson package Alberto Gonzalez. Ohlendorf, who did not pitch well in the minors this year prompting a move into the bullpen, threw 11 pitches, seven of them strikes, and hit 95 on the radar gun with excellent control and great movement on his fastball. For those who might have missed it, that means the Yanks held the Blue Jays to two runs (one earned) on five hits (four of them singles) by using nothing but rookie pitchers. The performances from Ramirez and Ohlendorf are particularly encouraging given the fact that Luis Vizcaino has added a stiff lower back to the shoulder problem that has shut him down over the past week.

Elsewhere, Shelley Duncan was sent back to New York after complaining of abdominal pain that could prove to be a hernia, and the Tigers split a double-header with the Rangers, giving the Yankees an even four-game lead in the Wild Card and a five-game lead in the loss column.

Finally, an update on Roger Clemens courtesy of Pete Abe who reports that Clemens "said he is ready to face Boston on Sunday. He threw for about 15 minutes at 80 percent today and will get after it a little more on Thursday. He had two cortisone shots in his elbow last Wednesday in Houston. He also revealed that there was some ligament damage."

Comments (73)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-09-11 22:26:24
1.   OldYanksFan
Cashman: "And the same thing with the Gary Sheffield trade. We acquired Humberto Sanchez and we knew we were getting someone with an elbow issue who might need Tommy John surgery. But the type of ability Sanchez has you can't find unless you give up a Gary Sheffield type. So again we went with the high-ceiling type. We will find out over time if these decisions will work out for us..."

So Casman knew exactly what he was doing.

2007-09-11 22:31:48
2.   yankz
Boy, we're up late.
2007-09-11 22:36:14
3.   yankz
Here's Phil:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_CCFgay5q0

He's shown the stuff, and tonight he showed the mettle. He even admits in that video that he didn't have his best stuff. I'm still really optimistic about this kid. It's only a matter of time, IMO, before he puts it all together. We're getting flashes here and there.

2007-09-11 23:00:58
4.   Cliff Corcoran
BTW, I've updated a few things in the above post since it was first posted.
2007-09-12 05:37:31
5.   Sliced Bread
I don't think Phil did enough to win over the Keith Laws of the world just yet, but I love how the kid hangs tough, and works through innings without his A-material.
His maturity is serving him well at this point.

Unless my math is wrong here:
Two needles for Clemens + ligament damage + muscle pain + bleeding in his forearm + blisters on his right hoof = Hughes against Schilling on Sunday, no? Forget the side session tomorrow. No matter what Roger says, it would behoove Joe and Gator to use him in relief against live Toronto batters tomorrow before giving him that Sunday game. No doubt, Clemens will try to talk his way into what could possibly be his last Fenway appearance.

2007-09-12 05:55:09
6.   Dark Knight
it amazes me how little patience there is for rookies, e.g., hughes, and considering his injury. schilling's rookie year at one year older at 22? started 4 games, 0-3, 9.82 era, 4-10 so/bb ratio (he really put it together 24 years later as a starter). i know hughes is often compared to clemens (roger's rookie year at age 22 [started 20 games, 9-4, 4.32 era, 126/29 so/bb ratio], but roger's so/bb ratio is off the charts.
2007-09-12 06:08:59
7.   rbj
Missed last night's game thread, I'm sure it was asked there, but how f'ing useless are the Devil Rays.
Yeesh.
2007-09-12 06:09:44
8.   Sliced Bread
6 two things are working against Hughes:

- He was heralded as the top pitching prospect in the country.

- He pitched better (especially his curve) before he got hurt.

Now, the skepticism ranges from he's a flatout bust to he'll never get it back. There are also observers who wonder if he's screwing up his mechanics compensating for that still healing hammy.

That might be a legitimate concern, but I trust the Yanks are keeping a sharp on on him.

The good news is, Big Shoes Hughes seems oblivious to the scrutiny while he's on the mound, and remains poised and effective.

2007-09-12 06:16:44
9.   Sliced Bread
7 very f'ing useless, but if the Yanks are going to win the division they have to do it themselves which means winning (if not sweeping) the Boston series, and not tanking against the dregs of the East (as they've done all year) down the stretch.
2007-09-12 06:22:00
10.   JL25and3
7 , 9 The Devil Rays may be useless, but the Yankees still managed to lose two out of three to them last week.
2007-09-12 06:22:03
11.   williamnyy23
8 I don't think anyone credible is suggesting Hughes is a flat out bust or will never get it back. Rather, I think many people wonder if he has sufficiently healed form his injury and had enough time to re-establish his mechanics to be a consistent, effective performer down the stretch and into the post season. I think that question has yet to be answered, but it's hard to take too much encouragement from his recent outings because, even though he has had two quality starts, his command of all his pitches has been lacking at times.
2007-09-12 06:25:29
12.   williamnyy23
10 Exactly. Absent those two losses, the Yankees would be 3 games back (2 in the loss column). Obviously, you can't win them all, but the pitchers in those games were Sonnanstine and Hammel. I still can't believe they lost both of those games.
2007-09-12 06:27:09
13.   Sarasota
...sorry but I am not impressed with Franchise Phil.......perhaps Kennedy is the answer come play offs, 'cause Wang/Petite need a third, and I suspect Clemens doesn't have enough in the tank. Last night's Red Sox victory was tough to watch and eventually swallow....how come the Rays don't tank for the Yanks this year?????
2007-09-12 06:28:52
14.   Sliced Bread
10 yeah, and it wasn't just those two games. As I said, they've been doing it all year.
They've played very poorly against division rivals that they should have been fattening up against.
2007-09-12 06:37:54
15.   Sliced Bread
11 Desperate as the Yanks have been for quality starts (thanks mostly to the inconsistency of Moose and Clemens), I trust that the Yanks didn't rush Hughes back.
Going forward the only way we'll know if he can be consistent, and regain the command he is lacking is for him to keep working.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Yanks should just forget about Roger this Sunday, and stick with Hughes. Put him up against Schill on Sunday night. It would be a great test for him.

We know Roger is going to push hard for that start, as it could possibly be his last one at Fenway, but Joe and Cashman should encourage him to keep resting his battered body, and give Phil the ball.

2007-09-12 06:41:36
16.   Dark Knight
rushing clemens into fenway would be so shortsighted. i would rather have a healthier clemens for the playoffs, assuming that's possible, than try for the division and risk further injury. i fear that joe will 'look into his eyes' and all that and just hand him the ball.
2007-09-12 06:45:11
17.   rbj
10 , 12 Then make the D.R.s doublely useless. Or call them Boston's bitches.
2007-09-12 06:51:41
18.   williamnyy23
17 Tampa has certainly given it up many times for the Yankees. Judging by their record, they definitely sleep around.
2007-09-12 07:05:34
19.   Bama Yankee
Nice recap, Cliff. Good to have you back, hope you had a nice trip (and a happy early anniversary).
2007-09-12 07:29:08
20.   pistolpete
5 >> No doubt, Clemens will try to talk his way into what could possibly be his last Fenway appearance. >>

Hello, ALCS?! ;-)

8 You nailed it - it's frustrating to watch Hughes struggle like this considering he was touted for so long. And now Joba comes up and is making 3,4 & 5 hitters (on the Tigers, no less!) look absolutely silly.

Not nearly as much pressure on Kennedy, and he looks quite serviceable IMO. I think Hughes is doing quite well considering the injury, the 'win or go home' playoff pressure, and the fact that he's (HELLO) 21.

He'll be fine. How many guys win 20 games out of the gate and keep it up for a whole career?

2007-09-12 07:34:59
21.   Chyll Will
20 Well, The Babe was doing okay until some kook decided to stick him in right field >;)
2007-09-12 07:43:46
22.   pistolpete
21 He was the Rick Ankiel of his time!
2007-09-12 07:59:04
23.   tommyl
20 I'm sorry, Hughes "struggle" so much? Admittedly, his command was off, but he retired his last 13 of 14 batters, and it would have been 14 in a row if not for the error. He's 21, he was injured and he's just pitched back to back 6 inning starts giving up 2 and 1 run(s) respectively. If that's struggling, I'll take it.

As for the M's, you think they woke up, checked their Pythagorean record and said, "Whoa, we better start losing a few, otherwise we're gonna be way off come the end of the season."?

2007-09-12 08:01:47
24.   tommyl
0 I got a perverse amount of pleasure watching Ross get two groundouts to the AG, knowing that RJ is probably done for his career.
2007-09-12 08:04:54
25.   rconn23
Anyone who is claiming Hughes as a bust when he has pitched he doesn't even have a half season of pitching in and has overcome a pretty serious hamstring injury simply doesn't know what they are talking about.

It'clear his stuff isn't up the level it was before the hamstring but this kid is barely 21 years old. He's going to mature and get better.

From what I have seen of his fastball, it
has terrific late movement. Watch some of his highlights on yankees.com and see some of the swings. Hitters are overpowered.

His fastball will probably only top out at 94 mph and that's fine. The comparisons to Clemens are just baseless because they feature different out pitches.

I feel that Hughes' curve will return to the devestating form we've seen as will his change up.

He is 21 people. Really, relax. Not everyone is going to be Doc Gooden in their rookie season.

2007-09-12 08:14:43
26.   yankz
Considering:

-Johnny Damon had a first half so terrible people were demanding he put himself on the DL;
-Bobby Abreu had a first half so terrible people wanted to trade him for Jermaine Dye;
-Robinson Cano had a first half so terrible people were calling last year a fluke;
-Melky Cabrera had a few months so terrible people wanted to send him back to the minors;
-Derek Jeter has been consistently injured and has seen his production plummet;
-Jason Giambi was DL'd for a large chunk of the season;
-The ace of the staff missed a month with a hamstring injury;
-His best replacement missed even more with a hamstring injury;
-Luis Vizcaino was terrible for a long stretch;
-So was Mariano Rivera;
-Mike Mussina, the #3 starter entering the season, is quite possibly finished
-The bullpen has had several atrocious members, including Villone, Henn, Bruney, and Farnsworth (for most of the season);
-Doug Mieakcnzk has had several AB;

I'd say it's a truly magical season. We actually have four MVPs: A-rod, Posada, Mystique, and Aura.

2007-09-12 08:15:18
27.   yankz
Oh, and I didn't even mention that injuries and ineffectiveness have forced the Yankees to call up 9 rookies, many of whom have been ineffective.
2007-09-12 08:15:40
28.   yankz
Argh. 9 rookie pitchers.
2007-09-12 08:20:11
29.   Mike T
"His maturity is serving him well at this point."

Absolutely. The way he carries himself in interviews, it's hard to believe he only just turned 21.

2007-09-12 08:24:25
30.   Chyll Will
29 Quite a few of these rookies we've got seem to be surprisingly mature; what does that tell you?
2007-09-12 09:27:09
31.   Count Zero
29 30 Two things: (1) The Yanks are doing a pretty good job of drafting for character and (2) they are sending these kids to a pretty good PR trainer who is teaching these kids how to handle interviews before they ever get to AAA.
2007-09-12 10:03:17
32.   Sliced Bread
31 I'm not sure how much character has to do with who they draft. At that level I think they're mostly looking for high-ceiling talent. Of course grade-A felonious dirtbags, and career juvenile delinquents need not apply -- but a kid who might have swiped a car, got caught with a bag of pot for example, who consistently throws strikes, and has a couple plus pitches in his arsenal would probably still be worthy of Yankee consideration. Though, to your point, I'm not aware of any crimes & misdemeanors on the resumes of the kids we've seen this year.

As for the PR training? I'm not sure how much maturity the kids can quickly develop in a crash course at Yankee charm school.
I'd attribute the maturity we've seen from Joba, Phil, Kennedy, and even the less successful ones (Clippard, DeSalvo, Wright) to their parents, and a solid upbringing.
Also, I'd imagine 5 minutes of exposure to veterans like Pettitte, Rivera, Clemens, Posada, Moose etc. would teach a kid more about maturity than a week with any PR trainer.

2007-09-12 10:22:29
33.   pistolpete
23 Did he not 'struggle' in the early part of the game? If not for our defense, we would probably have been down 5-3.
2007-09-12 10:24:35
34.   pistolpete
8 I also stand by my opinion that I don't think Guidry is doing the young guys any good. He's probably great for someone like Pettitte or Wang, who just need the extra 'push' sometimes, but Eiland needs to be on that bench full time next year IMO.
2007-09-12 10:31:09
35.   Shaun P
34 Its silly for MLB teams to have just one designated pitching coach and one designated hitting coach. They all ought to employ two or three, or more, depending on the types of hitters/pitchers, hitting/pitching philosophies, etc.

That said, I expect Eiland is going to have some kind of role very soon, if only because he's worked so much with some of these guys - and many of the ones on the way, too.

2007-09-12 10:33:26
36.   Sliced Bread
34 Eiland seems to have earned Cashman's trust, so I wouldn't be surprised if he stays with the club, maybe as the bullpen coach. Perhaps at the expense of Kerrigan who seems to have disappeared?
2007-09-12 10:35:36
37.   Sliced Bread
35 true. he's worked with JB Cox, Sanchez, 'Dorf, heck, even Igawa.
2007-09-12 10:39:17
38.   Sliced Bread
Pretty amazing how Eiland and Kevin Long (two Scranton/Columbus) guys are making strides in the organization.

I'm sure Long is constantly updating his resume to include A-Rod's season in progress.

2007-09-12 10:44:58
39.   Chyll Will
38 Everytime A-Rod homers, Kevin Long gets more pings >;)
2007-09-12 10:45:07
40.   yankz
What if Arod says he'll stay if they resign Mink?
2007-09-12 10:48:41
41.   Sliced Bread
[40 then it's bye bye, *B*etemit, which would be unfortunate because I have him penciled in to join the *B*oone, *B*ucky, list of unlikely postseason Boston-killers.
2007-09-12 10:49:31
42.   YankeeInMichigan
26 You forgot to mention the Igawa fiasco.

The best illustration of the 1st-half rotation futility was that, for much of the season, 5 of the 9 starters on the pre-season depth chart (Pavano, Karstens, Rasner, Sanchez, Hughes) were on the DL, and a 6th was so ineffective that he was in the minors.

2007-09-12 10:49:37
43.   tommyl
40 Resign Mink, then release him.
2007-09-12 10:50:22
44.   Chyll Will
If A-Rod stays while Scrabble sits, the Yankees will not stink!
2007-09-12 10:52:08
45.   Sliced Bread
41 killer B's, that is.
2007-09-12 11:01:17
46.   pistolpete
41 Why would you release Betemit to keep Mink? The man can play every IF position save for catcher.
2007-09-12 11:07:16
47.   Sliced Bread
46 I wouldn't. Just guessing that's probably who'd go in the unlikely event that A-Rod held a gun to Cashman's head, saying "Doug Out stays, or I go!"

I think Betemit's a fine utility player myself.

2007-09-12 11:13:10
48.   Chyll Will
47 I honestly can't see that happening, but if it did I bet (sigh) Phillips would be the one to go...
2007-09-12 11:15:27
49.   Sliced Bread
48 in an insane world where A-Rod would make such a demand I guess anything's possible.

but you're probably right. I forgot about Andy. No question it would be him.

2007-09-12 11:20:44
50.   Schteeve
What I have learned over the last two days of reading the comments at the Banter is this:

People with myopic and reactionary viepoints like to hear themselves talk.

Jeeeesus. So Phil isn't pitching like an ace in his first MLB injury shortened season. He kept the team in the game. He has plenty of stuff. He has a track record a mile long of astounding location. Is he where we all want him to be right now? No. But he's been better than Moose, or Igawa or Clippard or DeSalvo.

Anyone who has their mind made up on Hughes in either direction needs to take a nap.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-09-12 11:22:57
51.   Schteeve
33 If not for our defense we would have been down infinity to nothing, because every batted ball in fair territory would have been an inside the park home run.
2007-09-12 11:50:49
52.   Chyll Will
51 Is infinity a high or low number?
2007-09-12 11:56:38
53.   SF Yanks
52 Its definitely a Hilow number.
2007-09-12 12:13:33
54.   Chyll Will
53 I've driven a number of hilows in my time...
2007-09-12 12:15:20
55.   OldYanksFan
If we go .500 the rest of the year (9-9), we finish at 91-71. In order for Detroit to TIE us, they need to go 12-4.

While I'm not breaking out the champaign yet, things are looking pretty good. I assume we win 93 games.

I believe Torre HAS to start planning for the PS. For me, this means:
1) Resting Jeter. He is basically only slightly better then average on offense now. We won't talk about his defense. He must SIT and get as much rest as possible. Really, he's close to a liability right now.
2) Play Giambi regularly. 4 games out of 5, one at 1st. Remember when a terribly slumping Giambi was moved to 7th... and hit TWO HRs against Pedro? Remember what game that was? Giambi MUST play.
3) Stink will be used as a LDR and will get a few ABs. Hate to say it, but he needs to get some ABs to prepare.

If Viz is injured, can he be replaced on the PS roster? If so, who would replace him? I liked Dorf last night. His ball moves a lot.

2007-09-12 12:16:29
56.   Chyll Will
54 ...but I had to stop; I needed a lift because it was really getting me down.
2007-09-12 12:21:11
57.   Chyll Will
56 Bah-dum-tsschh!! (cricket, cricket...)
2007-09-12 12:29:40
58.   SF Yanks
57 HELLO...HEllo...hello (tap...tap) Is this thing on?
2007-09-12 12:33:31
59.   Sliced Bread
55

1) Like it or not, Jeter will not rest until after his next parade.

2) agreed. Like it or not, Giamba is the first baseman. (I predicted this when Doug Out was just a rumor around here).

3) Oy. I'd rather see Betemit get the 1B playing time and at-bats. Doug Out should not be part of any playoff plan.

4) Viz. Too early to say if he needs replacing on the postseason roster, and too early to give his set-up role to the 'Dorf just yet.

While we're boldly making postseason plans, how about establishing bullpen roles for the starters who won't be starting in October? Mussina? Kennedy? This is tricky business, because the Yanks still require quality starts aplenty down the stretch.

2007-09-12 12:36:17
60.   AbbyNormal821
57 Chyll, you also available for weddings & bar mitzvahs??? (Bah-dum-tsschh)
;-P
2007-09-12 12:43:24
61.   Chyll Will
60 I've got an open mind, but we could only get away with that in Utah >;)
2007-09-12 12:47:36
62.   JL25and3
52 I think we really need Zack to answer that question. It's sooo postmodern.
2007-09-12 12:53:29
63.   Chyll Will
62 If you see him before I do, tell him to save us all some pi...
2007-09-12 13:14:52
64.   Chyll Will
Okay, I get it; sheesh... (kicks a hole in the speaker, pulls the plug and jets)
2007-09-12 13:21:50
65.   Sliced Bread
from Pete Abe:

YANKEES
Damon DH
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui LF
Posada C
Giambi 1B
Cano 2B
Cabrera CF
Mussina RHP (8-10, 5.51)

2007-09-12 13:28:53
66.   ny2ca2dc
65 Thanks

Can anyone please convince me why Matsui should ever be playing LF with Damon DH. Could Damon possibly be as beat up (or even close) as Matsui. Man, that guy's knees on the carpet, say it ain't so. And Damon showed last night how great it is to have good D in the outfield corners, especially in Left (same as Melky did last year...)

2007-09-12 13:33:45
67.   pistolpete
51 So we would have no defense but Toronto would? Hardly seems fair.

If the Jays had no defense either, then technically we'd have probably won Infinity to Zero because we batted first. :)

2007-09-12 13:36:30
68.   pistolpete
66 Personally I think Matsui should get a break tonight altogether. Giambi at DH, Betemit at first with a righthander going for Toronto.
2007-09-12 13:38:36
69.   pistolpete
In other news, bleccccch:

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7215532

This was actually on the front page today. And with a big fat picture of Dice-K too. El-Oh-El.

2007-09-12 13:43:28
70.   yankz
69 I seriously thought that was a huge joke, like ghost-written by The Onion or something. How do the Yanks not do all that and more? Dedicated ownership, are you kidding me? "Rebuilding while contending"?? "Becoming players in the Pacific Rim"?? WTF? "This season, the Red Sox lead the majors in road attendance"...not that BS again.

I'm not saying the Yankees are the best, but all those apply, in my admittedly biased opinion, better for the Yanks. Did he forget that Boston was a 3rd place team last year???

Ah well. Guess I shouldn't care what some tool who writes for FOX says anyway.

2007-09-12 13:58:22
71.   Chyll Will
69 Jeez, get a room! Can FOX embarrass themselves any further? (Please don't...)
2007-09-12 14:36:25
72.   Mike T
69 That piece is worthy of being on ESPN.
2007-09-12 15:35:11
73.   3rd gen yankee fan
69 C'mon guys, it's sooooo fashionable to suck Red Sox dick nowadays, didn't you know that? It's what all the cool kids are doing.

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