Phil Hughes struggles again as concerns about velocity mount

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Not only hasn’t Phil Hughes’ velocity improved since initially emerging as an issue during spring training, his fastball was slower than ever in last night’s sub par outing against the Orioles.

Hughes allowed five runs in four innings, serving up two homers and managing just one strikeout while his average fastball clocked in at a season-low 89.1 miles per hour. For comparison, Hughes’ fastball averaged 93.3 mph during the past two seasons.

Through three starts he has a 13.94 ERA and .396 opponents’ batting average with more walks than strikeouts and Ben Shpigel of the New York Times speculates that the Yankees “will almost certainly discuss whether they are best served taking advantage of the two days off next week to skip his turn in the rotation.”

In addition to the significantly decreased velocity readings, Shpigel also notes that Hughes has gotten a grand total of two swings-and-misses from the 96 fastballs he’s thrown this year. Hughes called the whole situation “baffling” and added: “I don’t even know what to say at this point.”

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.