W2W4: Blue Jays at Yankees (Sept. 20)

Phil Hughes Stats To Watch

Hughes is in the midst of a run in which he has had five good efforts in his last six starts. He's 4-2 in that span with a 2.29 ERA, 32 strikeouts and eight walks.

RHB vs Hughes - 2012 Season

Hughes has continued to dominate lefties lately, but he has seen a bit of a statistical jump in his numbers against righties, as noted in the chart on the right.

Hughes has changed his approach to righties lately, favoring the slider over the curveball. That has worked. Hughes' numbers when he throws the fastball are almost identical both prior to and during this good run.

But his numbers with his offspeed pitches have been much improved. Hughes has gotten about four righties out with an offspeed pitch for every base runner he has allowed in this stretch.

Prior to that, the ratio was about 1.6-to-1.

The comforts of Yankee Stadium should also give Hughes a good feeling heading into tonight. He has allowed three runs in 14 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays in two home starts this season, compared to nine runs in 9 1/3 innings in his two starts in Toronto.

Whether the Blue Jays start Edwin Encarnacion will be noteworthy. He is 5-for-11 against Hughes this season with three doubles and a home run. But he missed both games Wednesday with a toe injury.

Aaron Laffey Stats To Watch

Laffey is 0-2 with a 9.56 ERA and 11 walks in 16 career innings against the Yankees, and 1-4 with a 6.00 ERA in his last 10 appearances overall this season.

Knowing Joe Girardi's binder love, it's no surprise that Casey McGehee is in the lineup. McGehee had a homer and double in three trips against Laffey on Aug. 11.

What can Ichiro do to top this?

My Stats & Info colleague Katie Sharp chimed in with a couple of statistical doozies on Ichiro last night.

Ichiro became the fourth player in the Live Ball Era to have a pair of four-hit, four-steal games in his career. He joined three other speedsters: Kenny Lofton, Rickey Henderson, and Carl Crawford.

Henderson is the only other Yankee in that era with a four-hit, four-steal game. He had one in 1988, coincidentally also against the Blue Jays.

Elias also chimed in, noting that Ichiro was the first Yankees player to have seven hits in a day since Hall of Famer Dave Winfield did so in 1983.

Ichiro gets another start today, even with a lefty on the mound. Including yesterday's five hits, he's 12-for-his-last-23 against left-handed pitching. He has missed on only two of 46 swings against lefties in this span. He has looked like his old self against pitches thrown off the plate, netting five hits (to only five outs) on pitches out of the strike zone.

Ichiro is 6-for-19 against Laffey in his career, but is hitless in his last seven at-bats against him.

Should Ichiro get four hits, he'd be the first Yankees player with four hits in consecutive games since Alex Rodriguez in 2007. If Ichiro gets three, he'd be the first Yankees player with three straight three-hit games since 2010.