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hughes rules

Phil Hughes Keeps His Innings Down the Old-Fashioned Way

Considering how much attention the Yankees have paid to innings limits for young pitchers (or at least, for Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes), they're an awfully inexact measure. Take last night: Hughes struggled through three-and-two-thirds innings before turning the ball over to (a very effective) Javier Vazquez. If one is merely counting innings, Hughes kept his number refreshingly low. In fact, it was his shortest outing of the season.

But Vazquez didn't spell him to keep his innings count down; Vazquez entered the game because Hughes had allowed five earned runs and thrown 102 pitches. After the game, Girardi said that despite throwing a full outing's worth of pitches, the team would just count the innings, citing the extra day of rest Hughes will get because of today's off day. Follow the logic there? We're not sure we do, either.

As for the game itself: Down 6-2, the Yankees rallied in the ninth, but scored just once and left the bases loaded while Kevin Gregg earned a one-out save. Tampa Bay lost yesterday, as well, so the Yankees remained in a tie for first. For weeks now, it's seemed like the A.L. East — and the A.L. Wild Card — would be determined in September, what with all the games between the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. But the Yankees better not take lightly their six games next month against Toronto, the divisional rival against whom they have the worst record this year.

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Photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/AP