Phil Hughes stymies Yankees as Twins rally late for 7-2 win

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Hughes draws first blood in the game of the exes.

Know what drives an ex crazy? At least the bad ones? Seeing you happy and successful. To that end, it was always going to be an interesting matchup when Phil Hughes and the Yankees faced off for the first time. Suffice it to say, Hughes wins round one.

Hughes went eight innings, allowing two runs off of just three hits. Both runs and all of those hits came in the fourth. Outside of that frame, Hughes faced the minimum and the best the Yankees could do was coax out a walk. It was an exhibition in how to dismantle an opponent, and it was endlessly satisfying. Even if that team is a shell of its former self for the time being.

But Hughes, in spite of his performance, nearly took the loss. The Twins displayed some skills in the field today, including a great bare-hand relay across the diamond from Plouffe, and a Gold Glove-worthy double play turn from Brian Dozier. Yet through the first eight innings the Twins had only scored once - on a grounder into left from Plouffe, scoring Aaron Hicks. By the time Hughes threw his final pitch, his team was still down 2-1.

And then it all went to hell in a hand basket for David Robertson (remember yesterday when I mentioned how filthy he was?) and the Yankees. On the first pitch of the inning, Josh Willingham launched a ball so hard that it was over the fence almost instantly. Hammer's homer tied the game at two, but Robertson's nightmare was just beginning.

He sandwiched a Kurt Suzuki walk with strikeouts looking to both Jason Kubel and Eduardo Escobar. And then five batters in a row reached for the Twins, including a go-ahead double from Dozier, a two-run double from another former Yankee, Eduardo Nunez, that opened things up, and then a two-run single from Oswaldo Arcia for the knock-out blow.

The entire inning, it was like Minnesota batters knew exactly what Robertson was going to throw. Willingham looked like he'd taken that at-bat before. Dozier jumped all over that inside cutter to pull it hard into left field. Nunez drove the ball hard into right, although by then it was Matt Daley taking it on the chin.

Caleb Thielbar cleaned up the mess with a perfect bottom of the ninth. And the Twins leave New York with a series victory - well earned, and wholly deserved.

God damn that feels good.

Notes

  • Jason Kubel hit .288/.360/.425 in April. He was 0-for-4 today with four strikeouts, is 0-for-his-last-21 (last getting a hit on May 18), and now owns a triple slash of .232/.322/.305. The biggest issue with an outfielder on the Major League roster is no longer Aaron Hicks. It's Kubel. And that sucks, even if it isn't wholly unexpected.
  • Willingham and Dozier were both hitless before their big hits in the ninth inning.
  • Arcia is 11-for-30 (.367) with three doubles and two homers since returning to the team. He's also struck out seven times and not taken a walk, but I'm not sure anybody is surprised.
  • Five of Hughes' strikeouts today came via that cutter. The other? Fastball.
  • Hughes picked up seven ground ball outs today, and just three through the air. You think his game was on point?

ROLL CALL!

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Win Expectancy Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Studs

Phil Hughes
Brian Dozier
Josh Willingham
Oswaldo Arcia
Eduardo Nunez

Duds

Jason Kubel
Eduardo Escobar
X
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