Sports Outside the Beltway

Hughes and Joba combine to shut down Seattle

Phil Hughes pitched his best home game of the year (where previously he had stunk): 6 ip, 5 h, 2 er, 2 bb, 6 k, 97 pitches (61 for strikes), and perhaps most encouragingly 6 groundouts to 4 flyouts. His fastball ranged from 87 to 94 mph, he had average command of a nasty curve and below average command of a slider and changeup. Despite that, he was able to throw all of them for strikes (at times) and got burned by just one bad inning (the 2nd): he had 2 outs and had Guillen down 0-2 before throwing four straight balls. He then fell behind 2-0 on Ibanez and grooved a fastball that was crushed for a HR. Outside of those six straight balls, Hughes was downright dominant (even dealing with a very inconsistent strike zone). Not wanting to stretch him too far (and pulling on a high note), he was pulled after 97 pitches and K to the final batter. A turning point may have been in the 4th when Ibanez led off with what appeared to be a clear double down the right field line – Shelley Duncan fielded it quickly a fired an absolute bullet to nail him at 2nd. Shelley had a huge grin following the play, and it’s awesome to see that kind of joy and enthusiasm from players (that you often only see from rookies).

Joba pitched the top of the 7th, utterly dominating the three batters he faced: two weak groundouts and a shallow pop out.

At that point, the Yanks were down 2-1 only thanks to a solo shot from Jose Molina (who had crushed the previous pitch foul – perhaps from catching him all those years in Anaheim he knew how to hit him). Seattle’s bullpen is very good, so I hoped the Yanks would score a quick run (preferably a HR) off Washburn before their relievers were called into action. Arod delivered with a solo HR (can a guy have more big hits than he’s had this year?). Robbie Cano reached on an error, forcing Washburn out of the game. But the vaunted relief core tanked, allowing seven more runs that inning including another HR by Arod, becoming the first Yankee to homer twice in one inning since 1977! Joba wasn’t used for the 8th, but his scoreless 7th was enough to give Joba his first major league win!

In Seattle’s defense, the umps blew two calls against them. Ichiro was called out stealing 2nd, but replays showed Jeter never tagged him. Later, Ichiro was again called out but replays showed he beat Jeter’s throw. Tough night for him. And someone please tell John McLaren to stop changing pitchers – it was insufferable watching that shit (thank god for DVR).

An off day tomorrow (fitting because it’s the start of football season), and Ian Kennedy goes friday in Kansas City.

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