Over the last weekend, the New York Yankees were unable to hold large leads against the Boston Red Sox en route to an embarrassing sweep that made the Bombers look very vulnerable.
As New York talk radio went crazy, I took a deep breath and convinced myself that a four-game losing streak is nothing to worry about. They happen to every team, but it is important that someone steps up and delivers a quality pitching performance when a team is scuffling.
Phil Hughes did just that in his first start of the season. Replacing the ineffective Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation for the time being, Hughes looked the part of rookie phenom in his 2009 debut. Against the formidable Detroit Tigers lineup, Hughes threw six innings of two-hit shutout ball. Along the way, he walked two and struck out six. It was Hughes first big league win since 2006, and it had to take a lot of pressure off of him after his 0-4, 6.62 ERA experience in the Majors last season.
Joe Girardi made it sound as though Hughes could be making an extended appearance with the big league club.
"I don't want him to think that no matter what happens, he could possibly go back," Girardi said. "We want him to pitch great and stay in the rotation."
Hughes fastball touched 96 miles per hour last night. With the increased velocity, the youngster has all of the tools necessary to set up his impressive off-speed stuff and assume the role of phenom that he temporarily separated himself from last season.
It will be interesting to see how the rotation plays out. But between Hughes' strong start at AAA and now a clear sign of success in the American League, it is pretty clear that the Yankees should still be optimistic about this kid's future.