NEW YORK – Twins righthander Phil Hughes on Sunday had to savor his eight innings of dominance and the victory over the Yankees, his former team, right?
“This game can be pretty cruel sometimes,” he said, “and I went through that last year. You can’t take wins for granted, no matter what.”
His diet of fastballs and cut fastballs — with sprinkles of curveballs — worked again on Sunday as he held the Yankees to two runs, three hits and two walks over eight innings and 100 pitches. He struck out six. Hughes was 56-50 in seven seasons with the Yankees before signing with the Twins last offseason.
New York got to Hughes in the fourth, when Brett Gardner tripled to right-center and Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single. A single by Jacoby Ellsbury and walk to Brian McCann loaded the bases with no outs. But Hughes got out of it, giving up only a sacrifice fly to Ichiro Suzuki, and began a run of 15 straight batters retired.
The walk to McCann ended a run of 178 batters faced without issuing a free pass, the second-longest in club history. Brad Radke is the leader with a run of 191 batters without walking one in 2005.
“It’s going to happen,” said Hughes, 6-1 with a 3.12 ERA. “It’s impossible to not walk a guy for a year or something like that. It’s a nice run, but it’s time to start another.”
Hughes said he was a little more nervous before Sunday’s start than he usually is. He did tip his cap to Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild when he first took the field.
“Once I got on the mound everything just cleared away,” Hughes said. “After the first inning, I was just glad I didn’t start walking toward their dugout.”
On the defensive
Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier had strong defensive games. Dozier started a 4-3 double play in the second when he went to his right to gather a grounder, slid into second for the force, then popped up to throw Suzuki out at first.
The only issue, Gardenhire said, came in the third on Gardner’s triple. He said Aaron Hicks should have used his glove to catch the carom off the wall instead of his bare hand. Hicks couldn’t get a clean grip, enabling Gardner to take an extra base.