By Jon Lane
Well, I’m not IN Fort Myers, but I am following Phil Hughes and those who made the long trip via the airwaves. At Yankees home base in Tampa, Chris Shearn and Joe Auriemma are working hard to provide the latest news and special features. Stay logged on to the new-look YESNetwork.com throughout the day and weekend for exclusive updates and interviews.
Hughes is eager to bounce back from his first rough start of the spring last Saturday in Bradenton, Fla. He may be a victim of a numbers game in the rotation, but he’s had an impressive Grapefruit season and will only benefit from extended action at Triple-A as a starter. Even if you don’t see him up north until at least September, is that such a bad thing? That would mean the starting five will have remained healthy and Hughes will benefit even more from the experience. In June he turns a mere 23 years old, so there’s plenty of time and limitless upside.
Following Hughes against the Twins is Jason Johnson, Dave Robertson, Anthony Claggett, Kei Igawa. Remember that Johnson is batting eye cancer and Igawa has tossed 12 scoreless innings. That’s not a typo, folks.
Brett Gardner led off with a single against Glen Perkins before left fielder Delmon Young robbed Robinson Cano with a diving catch while fighting the wind. Gardner stole second base but Mark Teixiera grounded out and Hideki Matsui flew out to deep center to end the top of the first. I’ll have more updates as the game progresses.
1:22 p.m. Hughes shook off a one-out walk to Alexi Casilla to get Jason Kubel to ground into a double-play.
1:40 p.m. Three up and three down for Hughes, all on ground-ball outs. Give an assist to Teixiera on the third out. He scooped up a low throw to help retire Young. No score after two.
1:48 p.m. Gardner is 2-for-2. Kudos to Joe Girardi for not declaring a winner in the center field battle. Besides the fact that there are two weeks left in Spring Training, you want to keep Gardner and Melky Cabrera looking over their shoulders. Gardner has to hit consistently and Cabrera show he’s more than just a fourth outfielder.
1:59 p.m. Hughes held the Twins hitless until Mike Redmond’s one-out double. Nick Punto singled Redmond home, but Hughes recovered to retire Denard Span on a 3-3-6 double play.
2:24 p.m. Hughes is pulled with one out in the fifth. He must have reached his pitch count cap. Another good outing for the right-hander: one run on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts. Jason Johnson is in the game.
2:43 p.m. Teixeira blasted a solo shot in the sixth to tie the game, but the Twins have regained the lead at 2-1. Teixeira finished 1-for-3 and is batting .414.
3:13 p.m. Todd Linden’s solo homer ties the game 2-2 in the top of the eighth.
3:23 p.m. Yankees enter the bottom of the eighth leading 3-2 after a Francisco Cervelli sacrifice fly.
4:03 p.m. Yankees win 4-2, but not without some drama. Kei Igawa relieved David Robertson with one out in the ninth. He walked two Twins to load the bases and ran the count to 3-2 to Denard Span unil Span grounded into a game-ending double play. Igawa has now pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings, but his location was terrible. In short, it was shades of the Igawa everybody knows.