October 16, 2010 — Phil Hughes pitched tossed seven shutout innings in the what was at the time, the biggest game of his life.
That was so last week!
Today, he is again pitching in the biggest game of his life. The stakes are higher than they were last week for several reasons – which I listed below
1. The Rangers are a tougher opponent than the Twins.
2. Today’s game is of greater importance than the ALDS clincher, most notably because the Yankees will face Rangers ace Cliff Lee in Game 3. Going back to New York with a 2-0 series lead takes a lot of pressure off of the Yankees on Monday night.
3. Joe Girardi gave Hughes the ball for today’s game, instead of pitching him in the third game of the series (like he did in the ALDS). Hughes has a chance to validate that move with a big game, and there’s now way that as a competitor, that’s not on his mind.
4. This is a road postseason game. Simply put, winning on the road in October is not easy — even though the Yankees are 3-0 during this postseason. Road wins might not count for more on paper, but they do within a team’s psyche.
Hughes is a ready for all that awaits him today in Texas.
–Alfred Santasiere III