Sports Outside the Beltway

At least Scranton can win

On a day when the Yankees lost a series to the pitiful Mariners, Phil Hughes pitched Scranton into the International League finals.

“I can’t tell you how amazing it was watching Phil on the mound today,” Duncan said. “That’s the best I’ve ever seen him pitch. He commanded all his pitches. He kept the hitters off balance, threw it where he needed to throw it. It was a special thing playing behind him.”

Some of the numbers are amazing, starting with the 94 pitches, 75 for strikes — “That’s unbelievable,” manager Dave Miley said — but those numbers get even more impressive when you look at just the fastballs. Chase Wright was charting tonight’s game and said Hughes threw 54 fastballs, 48 for strikes. That’s six balls. Six!

Hughes got better as the game progressed. He needed just 23 pitches to get through the sixth, seventh and eighth, and 21 of those pitches were strikes. Final four outs: He got Gil Velazquez by throwing three straight curveballs, he got Jeff Corsaletti to groundout on a good changeup, then he struck out both Keith Ginter and Jonathan Vane Every. Those two combined to go 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against Hughes. Adding Ginter’s strike out against Scott Strickland, they were 0-for-7 with seven Ks.

“I’ve faced (Pawtucket) a couple of times, but I didn’t have a great idea of what everyone could do, what their strengths were,” Hughes said. “First time through the order, I kind of got an idea of what they were trying to do and I adjusted accordingly.”

The adjustment worked, because Hughes kept his velocity up in the late innings. Josh Wilson, who had three of Pawtucket’s five hits, singled on the first pitched of the sixth, but Hughes got the next batter to hit into a double play and retired the last eight batters he faed, three on srikes and only one in the air.

“Right from he get go, really, I felt like I had my best stuff and Colon was throwing the ball equally as well,” Hughes said. “Sometimes you’re going to run into that, when two guys are just on in the playoffs, and you’re waiting for one little thing that’s going to make the difference.”

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