Phil Hughes' debut goes about as good as one could hope

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Phil Hughes 2.jpgSure, he could have thrown a three-hit shutout and fanned 11, but that wasn’t realistic. As it was, the winner of the most over-hyped competition for a fifth starter’s slot in baseball history was respectable against the Angels last night: Two runs in five innings and change, striking out six.

He walked too many guys — five — and gave up a home run to Hideki Matsui, but (a) he had enough run support to survive the walks; and (b) giving up a home run to Hideki Matsui in his return to Yankee Stadium is probably one of the most easily-pardonable sins imaginable.

And about those walks: as the guys at River Ave. Blues point out this morning, Hughes may have been getting squeezed. Check out the pitch chart. Those little green blocks at the bottom of the zone are strikes that were called balls. This is a continuing theme, of course.  It was Jerry Layne doing the squeezing last night.

That aside, Hughes’ start has to be a really encouraging sign for the Yankees. They won the World Series with three decent starting pitchers last year. If Hughes’ debut form holds for the year, they’ll have five.

Enrique Hernandez’s performance one for the record books

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Entering Thursday’s NLCS Game 5, Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez had never hit a home run nor even driven in a run in the playoffs in his four-year career. He had homered twice in a regular season game just twice and his career-high for RBI in a game was four.

Hernandez hit three home runs and knocked in seven runs to help power the Dodgers past the Cubs 11-1 to win the National League pennant and punch their ticket to the World Series. His first homer was a solo homer to center field in the second inning off of starter Jose Quintana. He blasted a grand slam to right field off of Hector Rondon in the fourth, then tacked on a two-run blast in the ninth inning off of Mike Montgomery to make it 11-1.

Hernandez is the 10th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game. Jose Altuve, of course, did it two weeks ago in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox. Before Altuve, Pablo Sandoval (2012), Albert Pujols (2011), and Adrian Beltre (2011) were the last players to accomplish the feat. As Jayson Stark points out, Hernandez joins Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Adam Kennedy, and Beltre as players to hit three homers in a series clincher.

Hernandez’s seven RBI set a new National League record for a postseason game. Only four other players — Troy O’Leary, John Valentin, Mo Vaughn, and Edgar Martinez — accomplished the feat.

No one has hit three home runs and knocked in seven-plus in a game… until Hernandez. He certainly picked a good time to break out.