Phil Hughes Knows How to End a Debate

Takes a no-hitter into eighth for second win

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Apr 22, 2010  |  Updated 8:31 AM EDT
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Phil Hughes Knows How to End a Debate

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Baseball is a really funny game sometimes.

For seven innings, Phil Hughes located nearly every pitch he threw in exactly the right spot to generate the result he was looking for. He got 20 straight batters out after a first inning walk and was just six outs away from a no-hitter when, suddenly, he turned into a character in a Benny Hill routine.

Eric Chavez's grounder bounced off his forearm, caromed off his chest and fell to the ground while Hughes looked for it up in the sky. His teammates pointed, viewers screamed but Hughes didn't find the ball until Chavez was on first and the second serious no-hit bid of the young Yankee season was kaput. Only in baseball can someone look so in command in one second and so helpless the next.

Hughes wound up with his second win of the season after turning the game over to Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera. The 3-1 victory was the sixth straight for the Yankees and the latest sign that they are leading a pretty charmed existence at the moment.

Whatever Hughes's bona fides were coming into the season, he was still competing for the fifth starter job with the likes of Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre. Even those who thought it was a rigged competition thought Joba was the organization's choice with Hughes a worthy runner-up in the talent department. The ultimate decision was met with derision from those who thought it wasn't a fair battle and from those who still feel Joba is being wasted in the bullpen.

When things aren't going your way, such decisions blow up with a pair of bad starts as the team struggles out of the gate. For the 2010 Yankees, they turn into near no-hitters finished with the help of an effective relief pitcher. It's not even summertime and living's easy.

It's not just Hughes. The first two Yankee runs on Wednesday came as a result of back-to-back triples, which isn't something you see all that often at a level where the outfield isn't stocked with kids who would rather be in the library. Brett Gardner beat out another infield hit to give them a third run, the 14th time in 14 games that they've reached that figure, and Mariano is still Mariano.

Maybe we wrong on Monday. Maybe it really can be this easy.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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