And that it was, a 9-3 shellacking, with the Tigers belting three home runs, two off Hughes, and a bad day for the bullpen behind him. So much for building on Friday night's exciting 4-3 win.
Air Hughes: The Phil Hughes Air Show took off early, when Austin Jackson hit the third pitch of the game over Brett Gardner's head in center for a leadoff triple. A-Jax scored on Torii Hunter's sac fly. And in the third inning, Miguel Cabrera smoked a fastball into the left-field seats to make it 2-0 Tigers. Miggy is now hitting .560 (14-for-25) with five homers lifetime vs. Hughes. And in the fifth, it was Jackson again, sending a 1-0 fastball into the left-field seats to make it 3-1. When Hunter followed with a hard-hit single, Joe Girardi decided to get Hughes out of there before Cabrera could have at him again, ending Hughes' day after 4-1/3 innings. Rarely has a pitcher been so poorly suited for his home ballpark as Hughes is for Yankee Stadium; he is 1-8 with a 6.18 ERA at home, and 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA on the road, and 16 of the 22 home runs he has allowed have come in the Bronx.
Long count: Hughes threw an average of almost six pitches per hitter through the first four innings, needing 89 pitches to get his first 12 outs. Part of that was his high strikeout total -- six in four innings -- and part his lack of a put-away pitch, which resulted in long at-bats and high pitch counts.
Bad to worse: Girardi replaced Hughes with Preston Claiborne, who allowed four runs on four hits in an inning of work, and replaced Claiborne with Joba Chamberlain, whose third pitch was belted over the right center-field fence by Hunter for a three-run home run, although two of the runs were charged to Claiborne.
K Club: By contrast, Anibal Sanchez had no problem putting Yankees away. After retiring the first nine hitters, Sanchez got into some trouble when Brett Gardner led off with a broken-bat single, and Robinson Cano followed with a single to left. But with runners on first and third, Sanchez easily fanned the Yankees' cleanup hitter, Alfonso Soriano, on a curveball, and did the same to Curtis Granderson on a fastball to keep the Yankees off the board.
It's not just Miggy: The Tigers had 17 hits, only three of them by Cabrera.
Sorry-ano: Soriano went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is now 0-for-9 with six Ks in the two games versus the Tigers.
A-Gone: A big crowd (45,728) at the Stadium for the second day in a row was disappointed when Girardi sat Alex Rodriguez for the first time since his return to the lineup on Monday after Friday night's 0-for-4, 3 K night. Girardi, who said he was just giving his 38-year-old third baseman a day off, never even had a chance to use him as a pinch hitter after the Yankees cut the lead to 6-2 on Lyle Overbay's sixth-inning home run, because the Tigers immediately tacked on three more to put the game out of reach. The question is, if Girardi sits A-Rod against Sanchez, will he use him Sunday against Justin Verlander?
One-man show: Overbay had all three Yankee RBIs, knocking in their last run of the game with a ninth-inning single.
Throw that man a sombrero: A-Rod's replacement at third, Jayson Nix, struck out all four times up today.
What's next: The series finale, and rubber game, matches Andy Pettitte (7-9, 4.97), coming off a terrible outing against the White Sox, and RHP Verlander (12-8, 3.74), first pitch at 1:05 p.m.