For all of the frustrating games that Phil Hughes has pitched this season (and in his career), today was not one of them. Hughes was solid, and as good as you can really ask a pitcher to be. He limited the damage and kept his team in the game. Unfortunately for him, the offense was every bit as frustrating as we know them to be, managing to pick up only two hits all game against Derek Holland.
Get-away Day lineups are usually on the rough side, but Brett Gardner was suffering from a head cold and took the day off until he pinch hit in the ninth inning. For the Yankees, that meant sitting their hottest hitter, and the rest of the offense did absolutely nothing to make up for his absence. Holland finished the complete game shutout with just 92 pitches. Ichiro Suzuki and Austin Romine were the only Yankees batters to get a hit in the game, and Jayson Nix was the only other batter to reach base after working a walk. Ichiro has now hit safely in seven straight games.
Hughes allowed only two runs and eight hits in eight innings of work. He struck out five and issued only one free pass. The damage against Hughes came on a sac fly by Ian Kinsler in the third inning and a solo homer to right field off the bat of Jurickson Profar. Preston Claiborne came on to relieve Hughes for one inning, allowing one hit and striking out one. The pitching was not at all the problem in this game.
It might be time for the Yankees to get serious about whether they believe they can compete for a playoff spot this year; because if they believe they can, they need to start actively pursing offensive upgrades where they can find them. Even if Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Francisco Cervelli return after the All-Star Game, there is no way to know how they will perform. The pitching staff can only carry the team so much. If they can't score runs, they aren't going to win ballgames.
The Yankees hop on a plane and head to Baltimore for the weekend series against the Orioles. Good news is that three of the Yankees' best pitchers are scheduled to start in the series. The bad news is that the O's have a tough offense and that any deficit looks insurmountable a large majority of the time against the Yankees lineup.
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