video thumbnail

NYY@OAK: Hughes fans six over 7 2/3 of two-run ball

A night after Detroit sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder proved to the Yankees just how dangerous they are, New York will turn to Phil Hughes, a fly-ball pitcher who often struggles to keep the ball in the park -- or at least make sure no one is on base when it leaves.

Hughes enters Tuesday's game at Comerica Park having allowed 25 home runs this season, the third-highest total in baseball. The Tigers, winners of five straight games, have a lineup that constantly threatens to put up runs, although Hughes kept them in check earlier this season at Comerica Park, tossing the second complete game of his six-year career split between the starting rotation and bullpen.

Prior to that start, on June 3, Hughes was 4-5 with a 5.64 ERA. Since then, the right-hander is 7-3 with a 2.77 ERA. The lone run Detroit scored against Hughes that day came via a Fielder homer -- both he and Cabrera went deep in a 7-2 Tigers win on Monday -- part of a stretch of 12 consecutive games to start the season in which Hughes allowed a homer. The right-hander allowed at least one long ball in four of his nine starts since.

But Hughes recognizes he is a fly-ball pitcher who relies on his fastball, and that limiting the damage depends on keeping runners off base.

"I'm trying to get back to that aggressive mentality coming out of the bullpen, and in 2010," Hughes said. "When I have better stuff, I feel a little bit more confident in doing that. I made some adjustments. I've been throwing a lot more changeups than I have at any point in my career. I feel like that's been a big change for me."

Detroit starter Rick Porcello still leans on a fastball that he consistently threw 94-95 mph his last time out, against Boston, where he also had command of two breaking balls. A strong start that saw him strike out six of the first 15 batters he faced -- one shy of his season-high seven strikeouts -- came undone with three consecutive singles to start the sixth inning.

But Porcello already had plenty of run support that night, courtesy of another pair of homers from Cabrera and Fielder.

New York: Ichiro's streak falls against Verlander
Ichiro Suzuki will remain tied for the franchise record of 12 straight games with a hit to start his career in pinstripes after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against Justin Verlander in Monday's series-opening loss.

Ichiro's last chance to extend the streak came in the eighth inning with a man on second, but he went down swinging at a curveball. He had yet to strike out as a member of the Yankees before Monday.

Ichiro, who served as the Yankees' designated hitter on Monday, is 12-for-50 with two doubles, a homer, four runs scored, two RBIs and three stolen bases since being traded to the Yankees on July 23.

"I think he's done a really good job," said manager Joe Girardi, who looked to Ichiro to fill the speed void in New York's lineup after left fielder Brett Gardner was lost for the season due to a right elbow injury. "I didn't think coming to New York would bother him because he's had so much to deal with."

Detroit: Baker prepares for utility role
Jeff Baker will have to wait for his Tigers debut after not appearing in Monday's game against the Yankees.

The 31-year-old spent most of his career with the Rockies and Cubs as a utility player, the role he will fill for Detroit, especially with Omar Infante starting to hit. Infante started Monday's game at second base, where Baker appeared most in the first eight years of his career. He also appeared at first base, third base, right and left field, and as a designated hitter during Interleague Play.

The Tigers envision using Baker as a utility player after acquiring Infante from the Marlins two weeks ago. Infante went 2-for-17 in his first five games with Detroit but is 10-for-24 with two triples, a double, a home run and seven RBIs in his past seven games.

"At first, I felt real tight," Infante said. "Now I feel more comfortable, more relaxed, more confident at the plate."

Worth noting
The Yankees and Tigers each promoted a pair of prospects to Triple-A on Monday. New York promoted catcher Austin Romine to its Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate after he missed most of the season with a back injury. Tigers relief prospect Bruce Rondon advanced to Toledo after allowing two runs on 15 hits over 21 2/3 innings with Double-A Erie.

MLB.com Comments