Hughes makes his long-awaited return and Alex Rodriguez once again tries for his 500th home run as the Yankees continue their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
New York (59-50) called up the highly touted Hughes (1-1, 3.38 ERA) from the minors at the end of April, but his stay in the majors didn’t last long.
After allowing four runs in 4 1-3 innings in a 6-0 loss to Toronto in his major league debut on April 26, Hughes was tossing a no-hitter against Texas on May 1, but was forced to leave after 6 1-3 innings as a result of a strained left hamstring.
The injury put a damper on New York’s 10-1 win, as the rookie was expected to be out four to six weeks.
Hughes’ return to the majors was slowed, however, when he severely sprained his left ankle on May 25, and the Yankees have been in no hurry to rush the recovery of their top pitching prospect.
“They weren’t going to turn him loose unless he was physically capable,” manager Joe Torre told the team’s official Web site. “He should be ready to go full-bore.”
The 21-year-old right-hander appears to be quite ready for a return to the big leagues after cruising through two Triple-A rehab starts. He allowed five hits and struck out 11 in 12 2-3 shutout innings in winning those outings for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“I’m pretty excited,” Hughes said. “It’s been a long time. It’s good to finally have an opportunity to be back at this level again, after being off for so long and all of the rehab starts. I’m looking forward to it.
“If anything, it’ll be better, because we’re playing better ball now and scoring some runs.”
New York won 7-1 in Friday’s series opener, and has scored 50 runs in its last five games. The Yankees have won four of five, and 16 of 23 since the All-Star break.
Rodriguez, who is trying to become the youngest player to reach 500 homers, has had little to do with New York’s surging offense, however.
Rodriguez doubled on Friday, but is mired in a 3-for-28 (.107) slump since hitting home run No. 499 at Kansas City on July 25.
“He’s there,” Torre said. “I’m fine because the home run is going to come now. Instead of let’s wait for it, it’s just going to come by nature of the fact that he’s playing the game of baseball as opposed to just trying to hit a home run.”
While Rodriguez has been struggling, Robinson Cano has been leading New York’s offense lately. Cano went 2-for-3 with his 11th homer of the season Friday, and is batting .462 (36-for-78) with five home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 20 games.
New York is within 2 1/2 games of Detroit for the AL wild card.
Kansas City (48-60) has dropped three of four following a four-game winning streak.
The 23-year-old right-hander went 4-8 with a 5.76 ERA in 17 starts for the Braves this year, and was just 1-5 with a 7.31 ERA in his last seven. In his last start on July 16, Davies was pulled before recording an out, allowing two runs, two hits and five walks in a 10-3 loss to Cincinnati.
“He’s a young pitcher who’s trying to establish himself,” general manager Dayton Moore told the team’s official Web site. “I don’t pay much attention to young pitchers’ statistics. If you did, John Smoltz and Tommy Glavine never would have gotten off the ground.”
Davies has not had success against the AL this year, going 0-3 with a 5.87 ERA in three interleague starts. This will be his first appearance against the Yankees.