October 11, 2012 — When Phil Hughes exited the game with two outs in the 7th inning, the Yankee Stadium ribbon board read “Wonder-Phil.”

That moniker was appropriate tonight, as Hughes put together one of the two best starts of his career (he blanked the Minnesota Twins over seven innings in the 2010 ALDS). Sure, Hughes has gone deeper into some regular season games or given less hits and runs. But just like CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda did earlier in the ALDS, Hughes has kept the Yankees in tonight’s game for more than six innings.

On the night, Hughes went 6 2/3 innings, giving up only one run while striking out eight batters. Hughes got into trouble in the third inning, when the first two batters reached and in the fourth inning, when a two-out double by Ryan Flaherty moved Matt Wieters to third base. In both frames, Hughes battled back and didn’t allow a run to cross the plate.

The Orioles lone run came on a leadoff home run in the 5th inning by Nate McLouth, but for Hughes, who has had mixed results in three postseason starts, this represented the opportunity to prove he can be major contributor to the Yankees rotation this postseason and in the future. He’s done that.

–Alfred Santasiere III

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