April 27, 2007


I always stay til the bitter end of baseball games. It’s not really because of loyalty or devotion to my team, or even superstition, but more out of fear: I don’t want to miss anything. Say you leave after 8 innings with the team down by 7, and miss one of the greatest comeback wins of all time? Or, almost as bad, a really fun brawl? So I stay. But the truth is, today I could’ve been out of there after the fifth without missing much.

Phil Hughes did pretty well under the circumstances. He threw too many pitches, and made a number of mistakes that the Blue Jays made him pay for, which is why he allowed 4 runs in 4.1 innings (though Brian Bruney was in by the time the last two scored); but you can’t expect perfection from a 20-year-old dealing with the nerves of his first start. I was actually worried for a while there that he'd mistake the "Huuuuuughes!" calls for real booing.

Anyway, he’s got great stuff, no doubt. I always rolled my eyes at the Clemens comparisons, and in fact I still will, because Roger Clemens is one of the 5 or 6 greatest pitchers of all time, and that’s way too much to expect from this kid. But I have to say, their deliveries are extremely similar – I almost had an acid flashback to 2000. (Of course Hughes is about 24 years younger, doesn’t have an enormous skull that encourages steroid speculation, and couldn’t grow intimidating stubble if his life depended on it).

Personally my take on the whole Hughes thing is totally dependent on what the training staff or team doctors say. If he can stay up here and really pitch 200+ innings without risking permanent arm damage, I’m all for it; but if it increases the odds of a serious injury, you have to send him back down, no matter what the team's record is. I personally have no expertise on the matter. The way the Yankees talked in spring training, they had concerns about it, which is why I did too; but if that’s not the case, I’d take him over Kei Igawa any day. I just don't know.

Anyway, it was a dismal game outside of Hughes’ promise, and the Blue Jays won 6-0 on yet another chilly night. I’ve been defending Joe Torre’s moves a lot recently, but I honestly am not able to understand why Doug Mientkiewicz was batting second tonight. Was he trying to get Mientkiewicz better pitches, in front of A-Rod? Or just prevent the bottom of the order from being three straight easy outs? Not like they would have won anyway, but it was odd. So that’s six straight losses for the Yankees, with the Red Sox arriving Friday night... and I’m still not panicking. But it's possible that I will be on Monday.

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