Pitcher Continues Home Losing Streak
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, AUGUST 15- In his 24th start of the season, New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes hoped to get a win at home in the Bronx. He had been winless in his last eight starts at Yankee Stadium and Thursday afternoon in the home stand finale against the Angels the winless streak continued.
Hughes (4-12) threw six innings, gave up three runs on six hits, struck out five and walked one. Prior to Thursday, he allowed two runs or less in 12 of his 22 starts and was credited with three wins. Once again, Hughes was harmed by the home run ball, though this time only once in the Angels 8-4 win.
“He threw the ball better today, his command was better,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Indeed, it was a better start because Hughes was able to go the six innings, and his ability to get the strike out with a good slider. The curve was effective, but the fastball caused him to give up his 23rd home run ball of the season.
Chris Nelson hit the first of his two home runs of the day off a Hughes’ fastball in the fourth inning, a solo shot from the former Yankee that gave the Angels a 4-1 lead.
There were moments when the old Phil Hughes reappeared in the Bronx. In the second inning there was that fastball and command. After getting the first out of the inning, Hank Conger followed with a double to right and with a 95- mile fastball Hughes got out of the inning getting Nelson and Grant Green to swing.
“It was obviously better,” said Hughes about his outing, after losing his third straight start and fifth consecutive decision. “The fastball was better, a couple of mistakes here and there, that was the difference.”
He said there was a difference, but it is still a battle to get it better. The fastball to Nelson was down and away. “I could have made a better pitch,” he said.” Now as the Yankees embark on a three-game road swing to first place Boston, Hughes will have time to make more adjustments before another start in the Bronx next week.
“At the end of the day it’s a loss,” said Hughes. “We set out what to do to accomplish.” That work, he said, was working on getting the fastball where he wanted it to go. That pitch to Nelson is something that has been hindering him, more so, at Yankee Stadium where he has given up most of his home run balls.
Girardi said he likes the way his team is swinging the bats, as the Yankees are playing better and banged out 15 more hits against Angels pitching. But, they need Hughes to get on the winning track and real soon if they are to make a playoff run for October.
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