Via the NY Post:
In late September, Mr. October stopped by Phil Hughes‘ locker for a chat. Hughes was preparing for a Sept. 26 start against the Red Sox, and the Yankees’ wild card lead was dwindling because of a four-game losing streak.
Originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday, the Yankees pushed Hughes up to Sunday and bumped Dustin Moseley.
“He told me to relax. I was coming off some starts that were forgettable,” Hughes said. “He told me to do what I usually do. I took a lot from that. I hadn’t talked to him one-on-one too much. Anytime a guy like that talks you have to listen.”
Since talking to Jackson, who wasn’t in Minnesota because of a back problem, Hughes has thrived. He beat the Red Sox with six innings of one-run pitching, grabbed a victory in relief at Fenway and was brilliant against the Twins in Game 3 of the ALDS Saturday night when he threw seven shutout innings in his first postseason start.
Usually I don’t like to put much stock into claims like this after just two starts, but in Hughes’ last two starts he has been phenomenal. We’re talking the same domination that he showed in April and May when he started off 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA.
Hughes’ next start could be the biggest of the playoffs. He’s likely to make it in game No. 3 against Cliff Lee in Yankee Stadium on Monday. If he shows up relaxed in that early season form, that could be the key to winning the series. If he’s the guy we saw going deep into counts and having trouble finishing off batters, the Yankees will struggle to put the Rangers away.
Reggie was obviously known for being a huge performer in October, let’s hope some of that really did rub off on Hughes.