When the Yankees, who already had a 1-0 lead thanks to a Nick Swisher home run, loaded the bases in the first inning, it looked as if Angels’ emergency starter Sean O’Sullivan was headed for an early shower. After falling behind Jorge Posada 3-1 on four straight off speed pitches, however, the 22-year old righty got the Yankee catcher to roll over on a perfectly placed outside fastball. Even though the fielder’s choice ground out plated a run, it turned out to be a key turning point in the game, especially after the next batter, Curtis Granderson, struck out to end the inning.
Once granted a reprieve, the Angels wasted no time in jumping back into the game by scoring in each of the next three innings off of Phil Hughes. A two run homerun by Macier Izturiz in the fourth finally gave the Angels a 4-2 lead, from which point they never looked back. Hughes surrendered another two-run homer to Mike Napoli before departing in the top of the sixth, by which point the game was all but out of hand.
While Hughes was struggling with the Angels lineup, O’Sullivan was breezing through the Yankees’. After Mike Scioscia smartly had his pitcher intentionally walk Robinson Cano to load the bases in the first, O’Sullivan retired the next 12 batters he faced. That string was snapped when Brett Gardner walked with one out in the fifth, but he was quickly erased on a double play off the bat of the struggling Derek Jeter. O’Sullivan then went on to retire the side in order in the sixth, completing a remarkable reversal of fortune.
Earlier in the year, two early runs would have been enough for Phil Hughes, who posted a 5-0 record with a 1.38 ERA over his first six starts. Since that time, a period covering 11 starts including last night, Hughes has posted an ERA of 5.51, which has boosted his season rate from among the league leaders to the precipice of four runs per games. With Andy Pettitte on the disabled list for at least a month, the Yankees need Hughes to regain his early season form.
Another cause for concern from last night’s game was the continuing struggles of the Yankees bullpen. Although Jonathan Albaledejo did pitch well before being extended beyond his more comfortable inning of work, Chan Ho Park and Chad Gaudin were both very poor. In fact, both pitchers have been so incendiary that if the Yankees had other options, they’d likely have earned a DFA. Perhaps it is time for new faces anyway, ready or not?
Phil Hughes’ Pitch Breakdown
|Avg. Speed||Max Speed||Count||Strikes||Percentage|
|Four Seam Fastball||92.2||94.2||61||40||65.6%|