• September 24th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on September 24th, 2008 · Comments (11)

    Obviously, the story of this game is Phil Hughes.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, in terms of access to this game, this is all I had this evening:

    1. I heard the bottom of the 2nd inning on the radio (via WCBS 880 AM).
    2. Via the coverage on YES, I picked up the action in the top of the 3rd inning when Abreu struck out (and then Nady singled to center, etc.) and watched it through the completion of the bottom of the 3rd inning.
    3. I tuned back into the game, on YES, just as Abreu hit the grand slam in the top of the 10th inning – and then watched the YES coverage through the end of the game (including the post-game coverage).

    Now, back to Hughes…you could make a strong case that this was the best game that Phil Hughes has ever thrown in the major leagues. At the least, it was the first time that Hughes has ever gone 8 innings in a big league game…and that’s a fact.

    Again, I didn’t see much of his pitching. However, on the radio, when I was listening, Suzyn Waldman talked a lot on how Mike Mussina got on Hughes about the use of his curveball. As she told it, Moose asked Hughes how often he threw the curve in his last game – and Phil told Mike that he thought it was something like seven times. To this, reportedly, Mussina told Hughes that he should try throwing the curve more often – like seven times an inning (rather than seven times a game). As Waldman spun it, Moose told Hughes that using the deuce only when he was ahead 1-2 or 0-2 allowed hitters to sit on it…and get a good whack at it. And, the recommendation was to throw the curve early in the count for a change. And, during the YES coverage that I saw, Al Leiter also talked about Hughes throwing the curve more often – in order to be successful.

    Now, does this all mean that Phil Hughes has arrived?

    Let me put it this way…besides this evening, Phil Hughes has thrown seven innings in a major league only once…and that was just about one year ago from this time – on September 27, 2007. That game was a lot like this one…in the sense that the Yankees were playing with a “garbage time” line-up.

    Today, the Yankees started Brett Gardner in center, Wilson Betemit at third, Cody Ransom at short, Juan Miranda at first and Chad Moeller at catcher. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez did not play.

    In that game where Hughes did well last year, the Yankees started Bronson Sardinha in right, Wilson Betemit at third, Alberto Gonzalez at short, Shelley Duncan at first and Jose Molina at catcher. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez did not play.

    Granted, the Yankees faced good pitchers in both these games – A.J. Burnett tonight and Scott Kazmir back on September 27, 2007. However, clearly, both tonight’s game and the one from last year had a “Spring Training” feel to them.

    Therefore, just as September 27, 2007 was not a sign that Phil Hughes had arrived and was ready to star in 2008, tonight’s game is not a sign that Phil Hughes had arrived and was ready to star in 2009. Why? It’s just not the same pitching in a game like this, or the one from 2007, as it is during a game that “counts.”

    And, anyone who wants to believe that this the launching point for Hughes in terms of being someone who can help the Yankees next season is still dealing more from a position of hope rather than from one of solid evidence.

    Comments on September 24th @ The Blue Jays

    1. September 24th, 2008 | 10:59 pm

      Wait… what does the Yankees’ line-up for this game have anything to do with why this isn’t a sign Hughes has arrived? Because the game doesn’t “count”? Shouldn’t the question be the line-up the Blue Jays sent out?

      Comparing opening-day line-ups to now, the Blue Jays have only two major differences: Snider in LF, instead of Stewart, and Inglett instead of Eckstein *gags himself*. Is that more of a “Spring Training” line-up or not? I’ll let you and the other commenters judge for themselves.

      Of course, the Blue Jays’ offense isn’t exactly spectacular, though I could be wrong.

    2. hallofamer2000
      September 24th, 2008 | 11:26 pm

      Wait. So is this what you’re saying? When the Yankees have a bad line-up, whatever their pitcher does means absolutely nothing, because he feels like it is a Spring Training game? And this is regardless of the opponent’s lineup, which happened to be their everyday lineup? A line-up which has a .300 hitter, four .290ish hitters, and a .270ish hitter?

      That’s some messed up logic.

      It was likely the fact that, as you said, he was taking advantage of his curve, and his control was a million times better. (No walks.) Also, it was his second Major League start since his injury.

      I’m not saying to say he’s arrived, just give him so freakin’ credit.

    3. September 24th, 2008 | 11:28 pm

      ~~Of course, the Blue Jays’ offense isn’t exactly spectacular, though I could be wrong.~~

      AL Team RCAA stats coming into today:

      1 Red Sox 108
      2 Rangers 89
      3 Twins 31
      T4 Devil Rays 25
      T4 Orioles 25
      6 Tigers 22
      7 Indians 20
      8 Yankees 1
      9 White Sox -15
      10 Blue Jays -39
      11 Angels -48
      12 Royals -64
      13 Mariners -75
      14 A’s -123

      AL Team Runs scored, coming into today:

      1 Rangers 867
      2 Red Sox 820
      3 Twins 810
      4 Tigers 791
      5 Indians 776
      6 White Sox 775
      7 Orioles 773
      8 Yankees 753
      9 Devil Rays 743
      10 Angels 741
      11 Blue Jays 690
      12 Royals 669
      13 Mariners 641
      14 A’s 628

      Pretty safe to say that the Jays are the 10th worst hitting team in a league that has 14 teams.

    4. September 24th, 2008 | 11:29 pm

      ~~just give him so freakin’ credit.~~

      Did you miss the part where I said it was probably the best game that he’s ever pitched in the major leagues?

    5. Tresh Fan
      September 24th, 2008 | 11:47 pm

      Steve, I have to give you credit. I thought you would sum up the day’s action by saying something like “Phil Hughes had a great workout pitching 8 innings of a simulated game.”
      Anywho, with their 87th win tonight the Yankees have now had 16 consecutive years at finishing at least a dozen games over .500. So far as I know, the record for most consectutive years at a dozen games over .500 is 19 (NY Yankees, 1926-1944), and the only other franchise to have at least 16 straight years at a dozen games over .500 (unless I’m wrong) is the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 to 1983. Okay, so it’s not a major milestone…but hey, it’s something.

    6. September 24th, 2008 | 11:55 pm

      Good find Tresh Fan.

      Lee Sinins, are you reading this? Can the raw data in the CBE tell us the top teams with at least 16 years of being 12 games over .500?

    7. Joel
      September 25th, 2008 | 12:20 am

      Hughes ought to stay with #65. Forget about that #34 stuff. Too much Jaret Wright.

    8. MJ
      September 25th, 2008 | 9:08 am

      Steve, I don’t think anyone who watched last night’s game would say that this is the game that proves Hughes has arrived. I think if you stop using that straw-man argument and just take his performance for what it is, you would at least appear more magnanimous, if not more objective.

      Hughes pitched an exceptional game against MLB hitters. He was efficient, he showed good command, and he dueled the other team’s #2 to a draw. Regardless of the non-playoff implications of this game or the fact that the Blue Jays aren’t an offensive juggernaut, you can’t take away what Hughes did. The kid still has a ways to go before he has “arrived” but you can’t look at last night and not take something positive away from it.

    9. September 25th, 2008 | 9:39 am

      ~~you can’t look at last night and not take something positive away from it.~~

      Agreed, 100%. I’m just saying that you need to look at it in context…or else repeat what happened in 2007-2008.

    10. MJ
      September 25th, 2008 | 10:41 am

      Agreed, 100%. I’m just saying that you need to look at it in context…or else repeat what happened in 2007-2008.
      I think we’re saying the same thing then. Last night doesn’t mean Hughes has arrived. But it also doesn’t mean we should asterisk the performance because the Blue Jays aren’t the best hitters in the AL or because the Yanks didn’t have their regular lineup in there (the latter point being utterly irrelevant).

      Bottom line: Hughes pitched a stellar game against MLB hitters. We’ve wanted to see this from him all year and we finally did. No judgements, no qualifications, no grandiose predictions. Hughes pitched great. Period.

    11. Jake1
      September 25th, 2008 | 11:36 am

      Hughes had one great game in September. Santana has been lights out all year and has a shot to win the Cy Young.

      Great move.

      They gave up this yr to save some money and some prospects. They thought they’d rather have Hughes-sabathia than Santana.

      Now they better sign CC

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