Yankees-Blue Jays Preview
Already with plenty of issues at the back end of the bullpen,
the New York Yankees are hardly free of question marks in their
struggling starting rotation.
They’re hoping Phil Hughes is no longer one of those.
After allowing a barrage of homers to the Toronto Blue Jays in
the series opener, the visiting Yankees hope to bounce back with a
third straight impressive start from Hughes on Thursday night to
wrap up this two-game set.
Closer Mariano Rivera is gone for the season and fill-in David
Robertson will miss at least the next two weeks with a left oblique
strain, but the Yankees (20-17) haven’t had many leads to hand over
to their bullpen lately.
Tuesday marked the fourth straight game New York failed to get a
quality start, as Hiroki Kuroda served up three of Toronto’s four
homers and seven runs over five innings in an 8-1 loss. Kuroda’s
ugly outing raised the Yankees’ rotation ERA to 5.11 – only
Colorado, Boston, Kansas City and Minnesota have been worse.
New York’s 13 quality starts are the majors’ third fewest, but
it’s 12-1 when it’s gotten one.
After going without a quality start in his first five outings,
Hughes (3-4, 5.50 ERA) has delivered in his last two. He held
Kansas City to three runs over 6 2-3 innings of a 10-4 victory May
6, then limited Seattle to a run and six hits over 7 2-3 in
Saturday’s 6-2 win.
“I don’t think, really, there’s been a turning point,” Hughes
told the Yankees’ official website. “It’s been a process overall to
get myself right. Sometimes you can hang on to momentum and stuff
like that when you’re pitching well. It’s hard to get any worse
than the beginning of the year.”
Hughes is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in four starts at Rogers Centre,
but he has a 6.33 ERA in five outings against the Blue Jays (20-18)
over the past two seasons.
The right-hander has surrendered seven homers over 27 innings in
those contests, and the long ball has been a problem so far this
season as well. Hughes has given up nine, giving him a major
league-worst ratio of 2.25 homers allowed per nine innings.
Adam Lind is the only current Blue Jays hitter to have taken him
deep, despite going is 4 for 22 (.182) with 10 strikeouts in their
matchups. Jose Bautista, who homered Monday and is now batting
.199, is 3 for 12 against Hughes.
The Yankees will get their first look at Drew Hutchison (2-1,
5.53), who is coming off the first quality start of his brief major
league career. The Blue Jays right-hander walked four in six
innings Saturday at Minnesota, but allowed only three hits and one
run in a 2-1 victory.
“He bends, but he doesn’t break,” Toronto manager John Farrell
said. “Tonight, much like we’ve seen in a couple other outings,
there’s that one inning where he’ll contribute to some trouble on
the basepaths, some traffic. But he kept away from the big
While the Yankees haven’t been getting good starts lately, their
lineup hasn’t been helping. New York has gone 3 for 33 (.091) with
runners in scoring position while dropping three of four, and has
allowed multiple runs before getting on the board in each of those
“We got in a hole and then it seemed like every hitter was
trying to hit a three-run homer with nobody on,” catcher Russell
Martin said Wednesday. “That’s not how you win ballgames.”
Derek Jeter got his first night off of the season Wednesday,
perhaps because he’s had more than a few off nights against
Toronto. He hit .154 in last season’s series, including 4 for 42
(.095) against right-handers.