The right-hander had an encouraging outing in his first start off the DL, but building on that performance could be tough.
Hughes looks to overcome his recent struggles against Toronto, earn his first win of the year and help the Yankees salvage a split of their four-game series with the Blue Jays on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
Hughes (0-2, 10.57 ERA) won 18 games last season for New York (54-37), but had an awful showing in the AL championship series followed by a shaky spring training. His first three starts of the regular season yielded more of the same, as he recorded a 13.94 ERA and was placed on the DL with right arm fatigue.
In his return against Cleveland on July 6, Hughes allowed two first-inning runs. He kept the Indians off the scoreboard the rest of the way, however, and ended up surrendering six hits while walking two and hitting two batters in five innings of a 5-3 loss.
“People are going to say it’s a good outing, but we know that he can be better,” Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official website.
That could prove a tough task against Toronto.
Hughes went 1-2 with a 7.29 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays (47-48) last season. He was 17-6 with a 3.78 ERA in his other 27 appearances.
Hughes likely won’t have to worry about facing Jose Bautista(notes), who has sat out the last two games with a right ankle injury. Bautista, the major league leader with 31 homers, wore a walking boot Saturday but is hopeful to be back for Toronto’s series opener against Seattle on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays’ offense had no trouble without their slugger Friday, beating the Yankees 7-1 to notch their fifth straight win, but they had little answer for the red-hot CC Sabathia(notes) on Saturday.
New York won 4-1, as Sabathia limited Toronto to one run and three hits over eight innings to win his seventh straight start and become the majors’ first 14-game winner. He gave the Yankees’ beleaguered bullpen some much-needed rest after it worked 10 1-3 innings of relief in the previous two games as Toronto outscored New York 23-8.
“There were not a lot of opportunities to take advantage of,” Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
The multihit game against the Blue Jays was a rarity for Jeter, who had batted .095 in his first 10 games of the season series.
Gardner has fared much better in his 10 games against Toronto, batting .444 with seven walks. The left fielder was one of only two Yankees to get a hit off Sunday’s probable starter Carlos Villanueva(notes) (5-1, 2.99) on May 23.
Making his first start since 2009, Villanueva allowed one run, two hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings of a 7-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
Villanueva, who opened the season in the bullpen, entered the All-Star break on a high note after allowing six hits and striking out a career-best seven in six shutout innings against Cleveland on July 7. The right-hander was denied a victory when the Indians rallied for five runs in the bottom of the ninth, handing the Blue Jays a 5-4 loss.