Phil Hughes got off to a bumpy start this season, but he went into his start against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night on something of a hot streak. He had gone 3-1 in his last four starts with a highly respectable 2.81 ERA.
Unfortunately for the New York Yankees, Hughes got back to his old habits on Monday evening. He got knocked around early, and he got knocked around often through five and one-third inning.
The depressing part is that the stars were aligned for Hughes to enjoy a nice, calm evening.
He was handed a 3-0 lead to work with before he even threw a pitch, and he took the mound in the bottom of the first knowing that he wasn't going to have to outduel Angels ace Jered Weaver, who had to leave with an injury after throwing just 12 pitches.
Hughes responded to his good fortune by giving up four earned runs on five hits in the first inning. He started the inning with a 3-0 lead, and he left trailing 4-3.
Things wouldn't get much better for Hughes after that.
He gave up another run on a sac fly by Howie Kendrick in the third and was touched for a solo home run by Mike Trout in the fourth. Hughes was charged with another run in the sixth inning when David Phelps allowed one of his runners to score on a two-out, two-RBI double by Kendrys Morales.
When the book was closed on Hughes, his line looked like this: 5.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 1 HR, 3 SO.
If you're scoring at home, Hughes has now allowed at least one home run in every start he's made this season. As it usually does, ESPN Stats & Info dropped some knowledge:
Phil Hughes is the 2nd pitcher since 1997 to allow 1+ HR in each of 1st 10 starts of season (Runelvys Hernandez in 2006)#Elias
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 29, 2012
Hmmm...this club needs a nickname. What would the opposite of the "No Homers Club" be?
At any rate, Hughes was spared his sixth loss of the season when the Yankees scored three runs to tie the game, 8-8, in the seventh inning. They would go on to lose, however, when Mark Trumbo smacked a walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth.
He didn't get the L, but Hughes' ERA jumped from 4.94 to 5.64. He now has a 4.99 ERA in 81 career starts, as opposed to a 1.44 ERA in 49 career relief appearances.
Where does Phil Hughes belong?
I would say that the Yankees should move Hughes to the bullpen, but that's easier said than done. At last check, they were pretty short on starting pitchers, and switching Hughes out for Freddy Garcia wouldn't exactly be an upgrade. Perhaps CC Sabathia would be willing to pick up Hughes' starts.
That's not too much to ask, right?
Alas, that's not my call to make. I only have the power to bestow American League "Worst of the Night" honors on Hughes. As punishment, he has to stand still and silent while AL "Best of the Night" winner Chris Sale points at him and shouts "Ha!"
If you happen to cross paths with Hughes today, you're welcome to do the same.
Don't worry. Even if he gets angry, you'll probably still end up hitting a home run off him.
If you ever want to nominate somebody for American League "Worst of the Night" honors, hit me up on Twitter.