NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Right-hander Phil Hughes will take the ball on Thursday night against the Orioles in what could be the final game of Baltimore’s magical season.
Following a miracle come-from-behind victory on Wednesday, Hughes is in position to close out the American League Division Series in four games.
And after 16 career postseason appearances — including three starts — in which he’s posted a 5.40 ERA, the 2010 All-Star is looking for redemption. He’ll be making his first playoff start since he failed to push the Bombers past the Rangers in Game 6 of the 2010 American League Championship Series.
In three starts in the 2o10 postseason, Hughes allowed 11 earned runs on 18 hits in 15 2/3 innings.
But he assured the media prior to Wednesday night’s game that he won’t let past demons get in his way.
“I try to forget about them,” Hughes said. “You don’t really want to linger on the negative, but every postseason start and things like that is an experience and something I can learn from. But it’s a different team, (a) different lineup, and I think I kind of know what to expect going into this, and that’s something I can certainly learn from. But every start, every team kind of provides their own difficulties, their own challenges.”
Hughes started four games against the O’s during the regular season, posting a 2-2 record with a 4.76 ERA. In 17 career appearances against Baltimore — 14 of which were starts — he’s posted a 6-4 record with a 5.10 ERA.
But those numbers mean nothing now, and Hughes knows it. He’s ready to improve his postseason resume and propel his team to the ALCS.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Hughes. “Last year was a disappointing season, and the year before that, pitching a good game against Minnesota (in Game 3 of the ALDS) and not then pitching (well) at all against Texas. I’ve been looking forward to this, and it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a good atmosphere here and something I really look forward to.”
Hughes had an up-and-down campaign for the Bombers in 2012, going 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 32 starts.
Considering Hughes’ troubled postseason past, are you nervous about his start tonight? Should CC Sabathia be getting the ball instead? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…