Hughes struggles again, Yanks lose 9th in 13 games
NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees manager Joe Girardi doesn’t know what to do with Phil Hughes.
Hughes gave up homers to Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson in failing again to get out of the fifth inning, and New York lost to the Detroit Tigers 9-3 Saturday.
Hughes worked 4 1-3 innings in losing his ninth decision in 11 starts, not a small reason why the Yankees are only one game above .500 at 58-57. And Girardi has a problem: He needs Hughes in the rotation.
“I don’t know if we have other options,” Girardi said. “We need him to pitch well.”
The right-hander was no match for the Tigers’ bats in this outing. He gave up a triple to Jackson leading off the game and Torii Hunter followed with a sacrifice fly.
Hughes (4-11) then gave up another run in the third, when Cabrera turned on a pitch so far inside that it looked as if it might hit him in the same leg he fouled two balls off before hitting a tying two-run homer off Mariano Rivera on Friday night.
“I have to keep grinding,” Hughes said. “There are a few pitches I’d like back — the hanging slider to Jackson. But the fastball to Cabrera, that was a foot inside and well off the plate. You just tip your cap to him.”
Jackson connected off Hughes with one out in the fifth. A single by Hunter one batter later chased Hughes, who gave up four runs and seven hits innings while striking out six without a walk.
Hughes is 2-9 with a 5.29 ERA in 15 starts since May 15.
“It’s just consistency, that’s the biggest difference for him,” Hughes said. “He works hard in between starts to try and fix things but it hasn’t shown up in games.”
The Yankees have lost five of six and nine of 13. They have not won a series since July 5-7 against Baltimore (0-5-3), and it’s not going to get any easier Sunday. Detroit will start ace Justin Verlander against Andy Pettitte.
Anibal Sanchez (10-7) made it look easy for seven innings against a Yankees lineup that was without Alex Rodriguez. Girardi said he was giving the third baseman a day off after he struck out three times in his season debut in the Bronx.
Sanchez did not allow a baserunner until Brett Gardner led off the fourth by fisting a blooper to right that went only a few yards farther than a shard of his broken bat that landed in between first and second base.
In the first start of his career at Yankee Stadium, Sanchez gave up two runs and four hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
Hunter and Don Kelly each had three of Detroit’s 17 hits and Victor Martinez had an RBI double.
Lounging on a clubhouse couch Saturday morning, Cabrera was wearing a big, square Band-Aid over the spot on his left shin where he fouled one of the two balls. It slowed him on the bases, for sure, but not in the batter’s box.
Cabrera singled in the first and connected in the third for his 35th of the year. He singled against Hughes in the fifth, slowly working his way around the bases and scoring on Kelly’s two-run single in a four-run inning.
“It’s hard to believe what we are seeing,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of the Triple Crown winner. “I’m seeing things that are mind-boggling.”
Hunter homered off Joba Chamberlain in the sixth to make it 9-2. Fans booed the little-used reliever about as much as they jeered Hughes, who failed to get past the fifth inning for the ninth time in 22 starts this season.
Lyle Overbay had pulled New York to 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run drive to right. Overbay added an RBI single in the ninth.
NOTES: Yankees SS Derek Jeter (right calf) played catch on the field before the game. He said he might ride a stationary bike, and he also thinks he could start running in a couple of days.