New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, left, takes the ball from starting pitcher Phil Hughes as shortstop Derek Jeter watches, right, in the fifth inning of Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers Saturday, Oct. 16, 2010, in Arlington, Texas.
So much for the notion that the Rangers were just going to roll over and die after the roof caved in on them Friday night. And so much for the notion that the eighth inning explosion signaled the sustained return to life of the Yankee bats.
The Rangers came out guns blazing offensively, got a second straight strong start from Colby Lewis and held their breath as the bullpen got the job done in a 7-2 win that evened the American League Championship Series at one as the teams head to the Bronx. The Yankees, on the other hand, are left wondering whether they made the right move by reshuffling their rotation to give Phil Hughes the ball in Game Two.
Hughes was just as bad, if not worse, on Saturday afternoon than CC Sabathia was on Friday night. He gave up 10 hits, three walks and seven runs in four-plus innings that featured pitch after pitch over the meaty part of the plate. The Rangers squared up on almost every swing, connecting for seven extra-base hits, and it was surprising that Joe Girardi stuck with Hughes as long as he did on a day when it was clear that he simply didn't have good stuff.
The performance was right in line with Hughes's previous performances on longer than usual rest during the regular season -- 1-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three starts with six or more days of rest -- but far worse than his outing on the same amount of rest against the Twins last Saturday. It will still be fodder for second guessers who will spend the next two days wondering if the Yankees shouldn't have left him to face Cliff Lee, the theory being that he's cannon fodder either way, and started Andy Pettitte in his home state.
While most of the coverage of the first few days will be about how poorly both Sabathia and Hughes pitched, there should be some space set aside for the alarming lack of production by the Yankees with runners on base in the first two games. With the exclusion of the eighth inning on Friday night, the Yankees are now 3-for-26 with runners on base. On Saturday, they got runners on base in every inning from the second to the ninth but went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and couldn't put any crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Given that and the two terrible starts, you have to be relatively happy with the fact that the Yankees have a split with the next three games in their building. Seeing as how Cliff Lee is starting Game Three for the Rangers and A.J. Burnett is penciled in as the Yankee Game Four starter, it probably won't be spun that way but everyone who says they wouldn't have signed up for that is a liar. After what happened in Game One, you have to imagine the Rangers feel the same way.
Put it all together and you've got a series that just got a lot more interesting.