By Sweeny Murti
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In his first spring training with the Yanks Phil Hughes was compared to a young Roger Clemens. Later, he was considered too valuable to trade for Johan Santana. But when he began 2008 in the starting rotation, he finished the year with zero wins. Zero.
Saturday night the zero was under the runs column. Phil Hughes had his Yankee moment: seven shutout innings to clinch the Division Series. He’s been an All-Star this year and already a major part of a World Series Champion last year. But this is the game that you imagined when Hughes was just a name on a minor league stat sheet or floating in the blogosphere, at a time when none of us even knew what he looked like, let alone how good a pitcher he could be. If he was going to be untouchable, then he better be good. He delivered Saturday night.
Dave Eiland has been Hughes’s pitching coach nearly every step up the ladder. Eiland sounded like a proud father talking about Hughes after the Game 3 win over the Twins…
Phil Hughes will need to win a lot more games for the Yankees to assume his rightful place. And just what is that place? As one Yankee executive put it, maybe this was the game that makes Phil Hughes the next Andy Pettitte, bridging the gap from one dynasty to another.
There will need to be a lot more champagne showers in Hughes’s future for that prophecy to be fulfilled. But Game 3 against the Twins was a good start.