This game was all about the pitching. Although Phil Hughes lasted just four frames (due to 89 pitches), he allowed just one run and the bullpen held Chicago scoreless for the rest of the night.
Donning his new specs, Hughes was both frustrating and inspiring. His stuff was good: a four-seamer that ranged from 88 to 95, a great cutter that he unveiled for the first time in the Bigs, and an inconsistent curve and changeup. The problem, as mentioned above, was that Hughes had trouble consistently throwing strikes and putting batters away. 33 pitches in the first inning is a killer. The problems started with Orlando Cabrera's 10 pitch AB to lead off the game (in which he doubled). The reason could be that he was over-throwing (being his first big league game since April), but the positive is that he was able to limit the damage to just the one run.
What I didn't like was how fast he lost his velocity. From 91-93 in the first, it dropped to 89-90 in the second. Hughes also didn't have great command, especially of his best pitch, his curveball. He was able to get by though because of his cutter, which served as his 'go to' pitch.
We could see how good his stuff is - he just needs to improve his command. Once he can throw all his pitches for strikes at will, he'll be a force. Perhaps on Tuesday when he ain't so 'geeked'.
- Coke, Bruney, Joba and Edwar combined to shut down the White Sox. If there's any aspect of our team that does not need an upgrade in 2009, it's the bullpen. And we haven't even added potential studs like Mark Melancon, Humberto Sanchez and JB Cox.
- Melky has to learn how to bunt. As a slap hitter, bunting is essential to staying the majors.
- The 2009 schedule was unveiled. The Bombers open the season April 6th in Baltimore and the home opener is April 16th vs. Cleveland. A bit strange that it's not against Boston. That's how the original was opened, so it feels like they should be the first opponent in the new Stadium as well.
- Ben Sheets left his game with a 'tender elbow' after two innings. I wouldn't touch him with a 10-meter cattle prod. He has Carl Pavano written all over him.