DETROIT -- I know it's only four games, but the Yankees have lost three of them. And just about every pitcher not named Andy Pettitte or Mariano Rivera has looked pretty much awful. So the decision to bring Phil Hughes in to start tomorrow's game against the Detroit Tigers certainly contains a whiff of panic, especially since Hughes hasn't started a real game since last October 16, when he started and pitched well in Game 3 of the ALCS, which Detroit went on to win, 2-1.
And the panic may be justified, to wit:
THE STARTERS HAVE BEEN GOOD: Compared to the bullpen, that is. The starting staff's ERA is 5.21; the bullpen's is 7.88. But if you take away Pettitte's stellar performance against the Red Sox Thursday night (8 innings, 1 run), the starting staff's ERA balloons to 8.18. Yankee pitching has allowed 44 hits and 17 walks in 35 innings.
GUESS WHO THE BACKUP INFIELDER IS? How about Francisco Cervelli, who has played the infield in three major-league games, all in late-inning duty? With Eduardo Nunez probably sidelined for at least a day -- possibly longer -- after getting plunked on the right bicep with a pitch, Jayson Nix will be the starting shortstop, and if anyone else gets hurt, it's Cervy Time!
THEY'RE NOT HITTING MUCH, EITHER: The Yankees' team batting average is .225 and they have hit a total of five home runs, one each by Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Cervelli, who blasted a 440-foot monster Thursday night. But Robinson Cano is hitting .133, Ichiro Suzuki is at .077, Lyle Overbay is at .182 and Gardner at .200. And of course Nunez, who is now unavailable, is hitting .364.