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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Hughes battered in the Bronx, again

By Kieran Darcy

NEW YORK -- Phil Hughes' spot in the Yankees' starting rotation may be in jeopardy.

At least it should be.

Hughes was rocked yet again at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, giving up five runs on 10 hits in six innings in the Yankees' 6-0 loss to the Dodgers in the nightcap of a doubleheader. His record on the season dropped to 3-6, and his ERA rose to 5.09.

Hughes
How much longer can Joe Girardi tolerate Phil Hughes' poor pitching?
Manager Joe Girardi was asked about Hughes' job status after the game.

"I haven’t really thought about moving Phil out of the rotation," Girardi said. "I think he’s capable of doing a good job for us. But right now he’s struggling."

Hughes gave up hits to the first four batters he faced, and five of the first six. The Dodgers posted a pair of runs before the Yankees were saved by an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

"The first inning, his fastball was running, it was running back to the middle of the plate," Girardi said. "He was just missing his spot with it, and got him in trouble."

Added Hughes: "I really didn’t have good control in the first inning. Fortunately I got a double-play ball to get us out of that. From then on, it was just a struggle to find any sort of rhythm."

The Dodgers scored another run in the third, thanks to doubles by Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. They tacked on two more in the fifth. Hughes hit young phenom Yasiel Puig with a pitch to start the frame. Puig stole second, and eventually scored on a Hanley Ramirez single. Ramirez later came around to score as well.

"You can mix your pitches, and he tried to do some of that too," Girardi said. "But it comes down to not making mistakes, and he made some mistakes."

Hughes has made a lot of mistakes this year. He's been erratic overall, and downright brutal in the Bronx. Even before Wednesday night's game, Hughes had the third-worst home ERA in the American League (6.52), behind only Jason Hammel and Ubaldo Jimenez.

And the Yankee Stadium dimensions weren't a contributing factor this time around. The Dodgers' 10 hits off him were all singles and doubles. He didn't allow a single home run.


Hughes didn't have much to offer in way of explanation, either, when it comes to his struggles this season. "I have to be better," he said. "That's for sure."

But should he keep getting the ball every fifth day? The Yankees do have other viable options. Ivan Nova has made three starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in June, and is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and four walks. Vidal Nuno gave the Yankees three good starts in May, although he's now on the disabled list with a groin injury.

Adam Warren has been excellent in long relief, including hurling six shutout innings in an 18-inning game in Oakland last week. And don't forget about Michael Pineda, who made his first minor-league rehab start 10 days ago, beginning his climb back to the big leagues.

Hughes was asked if he ever contemplates the possibility of being replaced in the rotation.

"My only concern is pitching well," Hughes said. "Things that I can’t control, I don’t really concern myself with. My No. 1 baseball priority is pitching well every five days, and that’s really all I worry about."

But more often than not in 2013, Hughes hasn't pitched well.

And his time may be running out.