Tanaka vs. Hughes in Minny

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
10:00
AM ET
Prior to Masahiro Tanaka, the young starter the New York Yankees had the highest hopes for was Phil Hughes.

Despite the outward hatred many Yankees fans seemed to have for Hughes, he did have his moments. He was the setup man on the 2009 championship team. In 2010, he was an All-Star as a starter.

From there, it went downhill to a point that the Yankees let Hughes -- who just turned 28 -- leave without a fight.

He went to the Minnesota Twins and has a chance to be an All-Star again. At 8-4 with a 3.58 ERA, Hughes could be back in the game, because the Twins don't really have many obvious candidates and Hughes has been pretty good.

While Hughes and Tanaka might be All-Star teammates on July 15, they will face off against each other Thursday at Target Field.

At the moment, Tanaka and Felix Hernandez are the clear leaders for the AL Cy Young Award. Tanaka probably would be picked to start the All-Star Game, but he will pitch the Sunday night before the exhibition, so that will likely eliminate him.

Tanaka (11-3, 2.10 ERA) enters having lost two straight decisions for the first time as a major leaguer. He doesn't sound worried.

"There is no pressure on me," Tanaka said.

He is not thinking about the All-Star Game, he added, just his next opponent. That's the Twins against the guy who was supposed to be Tanaka before Tanaka.

On Deck: The Yankees (41-42), losers of a season high five-straight, begin a massive 11-game road trip with four in Minnesota, four in Cleveland and three in Baltimore before the All-Star break. After Tanaka vs. Hughes, here are the rest of pitching matchups in Minnesota.

Friday: Chase Whitley (3-2, 4.70) vs. Kyle Gibson (7-6, 3.77)

Saturday: David Phelps (3-4, 4.26) vs. Yohan Pino (0-2, 6.32)

Sunday: Hiroki Kuroda (5-6, 4.08) vs. Ricky Nolasco (5-6, 5.49)
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.274 10 53 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIM. Teixeira 53
RB. Gardner 76
OPSB. Gardner .792
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135