After shaky start, Phil Hughes effective in return against Tribe

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Phil Hughes bounced back from a two-run first to hold the Indians scoreless over the next four innings Wednesday in his first start after nearly three months on the DL with an arm problem.

The Indians started the game with a walk from Michael Brantley, a single from Asdrubal Cabrera and an RBI single from Travis Hafner.  The second run scored after strike three to Carlos Santana got away from Russell Martin and Cabrera took off for third.  The throw eluded Alex Rodriguez and went into left field, allowing Cabrera to score.

While it was an unearned run initially, it was ruled earned after Orlando Cabrera singled later in the inning.

Hughes improved from there, though he never had a one-two-three inning.  He faced four batters each in the second, third and fourth.  In the fifth, he hit two batters and walked another before getting Lonnie Chisenhall to fly out, ending the frame and his night.

Hughes threw 88 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.  His fastball started off in the 92-93 mph range, but it had little movement and the Indians were able to make consistent contact against it.  Hughes survived because of his secondary pitches, his curve in particular.

All in all, it simply wasn’t the kind of showing that suggests Hughes is going to be a force in the second half.  He needs a little more velocity or fastball movement for that to happen.

Fernando Rodney gives up walk-off homer to Gary Sanchez

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The Fernando Rodney Experience hasn’t been a good one for the Twins thus far. The veteran closer served up three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to the Yankees on Thursday afternoon, erasing a 4-1 lead and blowing his third save in five opportunities.

In the ninth, Didi Gregorius reached on a throwing error by Miguel Sano. Giancarlo Stanton then singled, and Gary Sanchez followed up with a walk-off three-run home run.

Rodney, 41, now sports a 6.75 ERA on the year. He inked a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Twins back in December. The club has an option for next year worth $4.25 million. If things keep going the way they’re going, the Twins aren’t going to want to pick up that option.

The Twins may even want to think about moving Ryan Pressly or Addison Reed into the closer’s role, even if just temporarily. Pressly has been terrific, tossing 13 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts. Reed has a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 12 innings.