Thursday, April 22, 2010

Phil Hughes Flirts with No-No

Phil Hughes took a no-hitter into the eighth inning tonight in Oakland. It was broken up with no outs when Eric Chavez hit a comebacker right at Hughes that he was able to knock down, but unable to locate on the ground before Chavez reached first. He then struck out the next batter, but walked Gabe Gross after that and was pulled from the game for Joba Chamberlain.

Hughes looked downright dominant. His fastball was clocked at 93 MPH repeatedly, even into the late innings. His curve and cutter were as sharp as I've ever seen. He was locating his pitches perfectly, putting them right on the mitt, and changing the eye level of the hitters and keeping them off balance all night long. Hughes looked confident and poised on the mound and seemed in control of the entire game. He accumulated a career high 10 strikeouts. It was special to watch a 23-year-old fulfill all of that potential and promise over seven innings.

His final line: W - 7.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K.

You may recall in his first season in the majors, in 2007, Hughes was working on a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers when he injured his hamstring in the seventh inning. Back then he was a kid who you've heard about in the organization as being among the best pitching prospects in baseball. The kid they wouldn't deal for Johan Santana. Since then, during his time in the majors as a starter, he hasn't really been able to put it together on a consistent basis. But last year, in the bullpen, he looked fantastic and gained some confidence. Then he won the hyped fifth starter competition with a solid spring. Let's hope this gem is the start of that elusive breakout campaign. If he does put it all together, the Yankees will have an ace as their fifth starter.

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