On Wednesday night, Phil Hughes' 2012 season continued its descent into the abyss. The New York Yankees' troubled right-hander found himself getting pulled in the third inning of a three-game series finale vs. the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington after allowing four runs on five hits.
Behind Hughes' latest disaster, New York would fall to Texas 7-3.
Hughes (L, 1-3) was actually fortunate to have yielded only four runs, because Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced him after he struck Nelson Cruz with an 0-1 fastball to load the bases with left-handed reliever Clay Rapada, who'd get David Murphy to ground out to short to end the inning.
After a scoreless first inning, Texas went ahead 1-0 when third baseman Adrian Beltre (3-for-5, solo HR, 3 RBI) crushed Hughes' first delivery of the second--a 91 mph fastball--over the wall in center. In the third, the Rangers rallied for three runs to take a 4-0 lead. Shortstop Elvis Andrus knocked in the first run with an RBI groundout, and Beltre acquired his second RBI on the night by singling in Ian Kinsler. Michael Young then capped the onslaught, driving in Josh Hamilton with a double to left.
Following Young's RBI double, Hughes, whose ERA has swelled to 7.88, struck Cruz to load the bases and was quickly removed.
Some may attribute Hughes' struggles to how poorly he locates his pitches in crucial moments. I'd say it has as much, perhaps even more, to do with his inability to put hitters away after getting two strikes on them. Hughes' off-speed pitches haven't been effective, and that forces him to throw more fastballs in two-strike counts to awaiting hitters.
Looks like Andy Pettitte can't return soon enough.