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Game 85 Preview: Yankees at Indians, 7:05 ET

Phil Hughes gets his first chance to whittle down that 13.94 ERA tonight in Cleveland.
Phil Hughes gets his first chance to whittle down that 13.94 ERA tonight in Cleveland.

It's Phil Hughes Day here in Yankees Universe. The right-hander returns to the hill tonight after three rehab starts convinced management he was well enough to return to the parent club.

Even still, I don't think most Yankees fans — and likely the Yankees themselves — will feel comfortable until Hughes proves he's healthy on a big-league mound. He gets that chance tonight in Cleveland, where the Yankees close out their three-game series at The Jake Progressive Field.

Just for housekeeping purposes, a brief Hughes recap: After winning 18 games a season ago, Hughes entering spring training with his fastball lacking its usual zip. The hope was that he'd regain the velocity by opening day, but that never happened as a series of April slaughters led to a DL stint. The mysterious "dead arm" term was replaced by "shoulder inflammation" and Hughes disappeared for awhile.

Now he's back.

Current Series

3 game series vs Indians @ Progressive Field

Mon 07/04 WP: Josh Tomlin (10 - 4)
SV: Chris Perez
LP: A.J. Burnett (8 - 7)
3 - 6 loss
Tue 07/05 WP: CC Sabathia (12 - 4)
LP: Carlos Carrasco (8 - 5)
9 - 2 win

New York Yankees
@ Cleveland Indians

Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011, 7:05 PM EDT
Progressive Field

Phil Hughes vs Justin Masterson

Partly cloudy,rain. Winds blowing out to right field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 85.

Yankees Afternoon Links: CC and Hughes

Complete Coverage >


Hughes takes the place of Ivan Nova, who deserved a better fate than riding buses in the minors again (though when you're young and have options, shiz happens). Hughes will probably be used conservatively initially — I'd be surprised if he throws more than 90 pitches tonight, but then again, I have no access to The Binder.

"I know it’ll be good," Hughes told LoHud. "I know my stuff is there, I just have to execute pitches. I know if I do that, I’ll be fine. I’m not going out there with any wonder or curiosity or doubt. I’m just going out trying to execute every pitch I can."

Bottom line, it's a good and important day for the Yankees, who would become that much more dangerous if Hughes can return to his pre-All-Star break form of a year ago.

Today's lineup:

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

Dan Hanzus is a regular contributor to Pinstripe Alley. He can be reached at or on Twitter @danhanzus.