First Pitch: It's up to Hughes now

October, 15, 2012
10/15/12
6:00
AM ET
Down 2-0 to the Tigers in the ALCS, the Yankees’ backs are against the wall.

It’s up to Phil Hughes to get them back in this series.

The Yankees will had Hughes the ball in Game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday night. He’ll be opposed by Tigers ace Justin Verlander. A tall task, indeed.

“He’s a great pitcher -- obviously he’s had a great season, he’s their No. 1 guy,” Hughes said of Verlander. “Obviously we’re not in the position we want to be, but it’s a big game and I’ve got to step up, do the best job I can and help us get a win.”

Hughes, 26, has been pretty much hit-or-miss for the Yankees this year. During the regular season he went 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA. In Game 3 of the ALDS against Baltimore, he threw 6 2/3 innings of one-run, four-hit ball.

“I’m just gonna try to do all I can, which is throw one pitch at a time, and not worry about anything,” Hughes said. “Just focus on what I can do, and that’s pitch.”

Verlander is ranked in the top five in the American League in several categories. In two ALDS starts, he went 2-0 with an otherworldly 0.56 ERA.

The Yankees have scored just four runs so far in this series -- all of them coming against Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the ninth inning of Game 1.

“It’s definitely not an ideal situation. You’d rather be up 2-0 and facing a Triple-A pitcher. That would be nice,” Alex Rodriguez joked.

So yeah, Hughes has his work cut out for him.

UP NOW: Wallace Matthews' and Ian O’Connor’s columns off Game 2. Matt Ehalt has you covered in the blog.

ON DECK: The Yankees have an off day on Monday. But there should be plenty to come from their conference calls, so stay tuned. And, as always, thanks for reading.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.282 8 47 49
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 62
OPSB. Gardner .768
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135