First Pitch: Hughes has handled these O's

The Orioles would figure to be a team that would do well against Phil Hughes. He is a fastball guy who gives up more home runs than anyone in baseball not named Ervin Santana. But Hughes has done very well against the Orioles, which bodes well for the Yankees and him as they try to advance to the ALCS tonight.

The players on Baltimore’s playoff roster have hit just .237 against Hughes. There is no Oriole with good numbers against Hughes, except for Nate McLouth. McLouth's two hits in six at-bats are too small a sample to even count.

The biggest bats in the Orioles’ lineup have struggled. Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds both have two homers off Hughes. But Jones is just a .206 hitter in 34 at-bats against Hughes. Reynolds is at .250. Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis have all hit home runs off Hughes, but are batting a combined .220 in 59 at-bats.

“There’s not really one guy you can point to and say he may be the toughest at-bat,” Hughes said. “They have guys up and down that lineup that can hurt you.”

In Hughes’ career, his overall numbers are not so great against Baltimore. He is 6-4 with a 5.10 ERA in 77 2/3 innings. However, he has lost just twice in his past 10 starts against them. His ERA in those games is 4.29. In seven of those starts, he has allowed three runs or less.

Hughes is happy not to see Nick Markakis, who is still out with a broken hand. Markakis has hit .310 in 43 at-bats against Hughes.

UP NOW: Ian O'Connor on Joe Girardi's guts and Raul Ibanez's bat. Wallace Matthews on the end of Alex Rodriguez as we know him. My news story on Derek Jeter saying he will play. Ian Begley's news story on A-Rod's day and night.

ON DECK: We will have all the latest news all day plus Mark Simon’s What2Watch4. Joe Saunders will start for the Orioles.

IN THE HOLE: Game time is 7:37 p.m. If a Game 5 is needed for Friday, it will be at 5:05 p.m.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Would you start A-Rod tonight?