NEW YORK--When you consider giving up four runs on four hits over 5-2/3 innings in a 7-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles your strongest start all season, you're likely not having that good a season.
"Overall, I thought it was the best stuff I've had all year," Hughes told reporters in the Yankees clubhouse. "I take that for what it is. Obviously, a loss is a loss, and I need to get better.
"But I feel like if I could take that stuff out [there] I could win some ballgames," he added. "I have to improve on some things, but I felt like there were some positives in there."
Prior to Tuesday's game, Hughes revealed that he wanted to pitch as aggressively as he did in 2009, back when he was coming out of the bullpen. The approach yielded six strikeouts--which matched his season-high--but a couple of costly mistakes as well.
Three of the four runs charged to Hughes came on home runs off the bats of first baseman Chris Davis (solo HR) and shortstop J.J. Hardy (2-run HR) in the second and third innings, respectively.
Hardy's third-inning homer--a roaring blast to left--snapped a 1-1 tie.
"I really look back at the one mistake to Hardy as the one that really hurt tonight," Hughes said.
Hughes was equally hurt by a Yankees offense that all but disappeared Tuesday. Curtis Granderson's solo homer in the first inning off Orioles lefty Brian Matusz (W, 1-3) (6.1 IP, 6H, 1R) would account for New York's only run. Disgusted fans booed third baseman Alex Rodriguez after he popped out with the bases loaded to catcher Matt Wieters in foul territory to end the seventh.
Including Tuesday's game, the Yankees have been held to one run or less in three of Hughes' five starts in 2012. In his two other outings, they scored seven and three runs against the Minnesota Twins (April 19) and Texas Rangers (April 25), respectively.
With that kind of "support," Hughes will have to keep optimism as a close ally.
"Overall, I think there were some positive things to look at," he said. "Certainly a lot better than earlier in the year, so [I'll] try to work off those and try to get even better."