Coming off his worst performance of the season despite nine days of rest, Hughes looks to bounce back in his regular turn Sunday afternoon as the Yankees decide their series with the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
Hughes (10-2, 3.58 ERA) has looked like a potential All-Star in his first full season as a starter, and New York (49-31) recently made a move designed to prevent him from tiring later in the year. The Yankees skipped his turn June 25 at Dodger Stadium in an effort to limit his innings even though he’d won five straight starts.
The rest certainly didn’t help Hughes on Tuesday against Seattle. He gave up season highs of 10 hits and seven runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 7-4 loss.
“I just didn’t have command,” Hughes told the Yankees’ official website. “There were a couple of spots where I could have pitched better and gotten out of it. I just didn’t make good pitches.”
Despite his struggles, Hughes claimed he “felt better, actually,” and that “the extra rest made me feel stronger.”
Hughes, however, has a 6.87 ERA over his last three starts while allowing four homers - the same total he gave up through his first 11 outings.
“We’re looking at (him) over the long haul. We’re not just looking at this start,” manager Joe Girardi said of Hughes, who is 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in five starts against Toronto. “We’re looking at making sure this young man stays healthy.”
One thing Hughes can typically count on is help from his offense. The Yankees give him an average of 8.49 runs, easily the best support in the majors.
They’ll be hard-pressed to match their output from the third inning Saturday, however. New York totaled nine runs in losing three of four - falling 6-1 in the series opener - but scored all of its runs in the third during an 11-3 rout of the Blue Jays (41-41).
“It’s baseball. It’s the only way to describe it,” Girardi said after the Yankees’ biggest inning since a 13-run eighth against Tampa Bay on June 21, 2005. “Sometimes it doesn’t make sense.”
Brandon Morrow(notes) (5-6, 4.50) gave up a run and four hits over seven innings while striking out eight against New York on June 6 in Toronto, and appeared to have his team on the verge of completing a three-game sweep. The Jays’ bullpen imploded, however, in a 4-3 loss.
Morrow’s experience on the road has been far less impressive. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.82 ERA at home but 0-5 with a 6.69 ERA away from Rogers Centre.
Morrow came into Tuesday’s start at Cleveland having allowed five runs in his last five starts, but gave up five - three earned - over six innings in a 5-4 loss to the Indians.
He’s 1-0 with a 3.13 ERA in nine games - three starts - overall against the Yankees, and he’s dominated three of their biggest bats. Alex Rodriguez(notes), Derek Jeter(notes) and Mark Teixeira(notes) are hitting a combined .161 (5 for 31) against Morrow.
Rodriguez, who had four RBIs on Saturday, has driven in 16 in his last 10 games. Jeter, meanwhile, doesn’t have an RBI in 16 games - the longest drought of his career.