Bronx, NY—The long ball gave each team all but one run in the second game of the biannual Subway Series at Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. The home run ball was not an expectation for most observers as the young starters, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey, are the first opposing starters to enter a game with at least nine victories and won/loss percentage of at least .900 since June 22, 1900. The 1900 contest is the only precedent for this level of starting match-up.
This was not the first meeting of the two young and heralded starters. They last faced one another on May 22, the second game of the Subway Series at Citi Field. The earlier contest had the exact opposite result as the Mets were victors, 5-3.
Jose Reyes led off the game with his 16th career lead-off homer. In the third with one out and Henry Blanco on first, Reyes again homered to right field. These three scored were the last gotten by the Mets on Saturday. Mets manager Jerry Manuel played his sparkplug at shortstop, “He’s a dynamic player, has a great deal of energy, exciting. He’s a very charismatic player.” After hitting the two homers, Reyes was retired on a strikeout and a grounder to first. Yanks skipper Joe Girardi commented, “The guy who really hurt him was Reyes and he [Hughes] adjusted.”
Hughes gave up only one other hit, a single by Jason Bay in the second, in addition to the homers by Reyes in his seven innings on the mound. Girardi credited Hughes’s success to his increased confidence, “He [Hughes] knows what he has to do. He’s a guy who’s gotten more confidence as time’s gone by. He pitched in those tough games last year where there was not a lot of room for error.”
The young hurler, who will only reach 24 years of age on June 24, spoke in agreement with his manager regarding the increased confidence he got from his work in the bullpen in 2009, “I feel like it [relief work last year] helped me a lot. That’s [confidence] the only thing I take away from last year. I have confidence in my stuff. I challenge the hitters.”
As only the second American League pitcher to achieve double digit victory totals, Hughes was asked about playing in next month’s All-Star game. He responded, “It definitely would be cool.” Although never a fan of the Angels, he lived 10 minutes from the ballpark where this year’s All-Star game will be played. First baseman Mark Teixeira admiringly said of Hughes, “We expected him to have some ups and downs, but he hasn’t.”
Mike Pelfrey, 26, ended a five decision win streak with the loss on Saturday. He only exceeded the five runs he surrendered once before this season. The result of his start on Saturday was very different then the one in May, but not unlike his only previous start at the current Yankee Stadium last year. On June 14, 2009, Pelfrey gave up nine runs and nine hits in three innings. He has only given up more than the five earned runs this start in one game this season.
Manuel still feels very confident of his 26 year-old starter, “I think that he’s been elevating some of his pitches. He is still a young pitcher, who, over the course of a season, and in his career, will hit small bumps. He just has to look back on them and get better…The longer these guys stay at this level, the more confidence they have that they can go through bad times and come back and perform.”
The two-run homer by Teixeira to tie the game at 3 in the third and the homer by Curtis Granderson in the next inning that decided the game’s outcome. Teixeira has hit in 9 of his last 11 contests. Granderson has hit four in his last 17 games.