Mattingly’s return a split decision

Don Mattingly’s return to Yankee Stadium was a half-empty, half-full experience in one day for the popular former Yankees favorite. The Dodgers manager had to be embarrassed by his team’s performance in a 6-4 loss in the afternoon, but the club saved face with a 6-0 victory in the night game.

It was another uneven outing at the Stadium for Phil Hughes, who was touched for two runs and five hits in the very first inning and slogged his way through six innings by yielding five earned runs and 10 hits. His record fell to 3-6 with a 5.09 ERA. It is even worse at the Stadium where Hughes is 1-4 with a 6.69 ERA. He has given up 49 hits, including seven home runs, in 35 home innings.

“I struggled to find a rhythm and my pitch count went up,” Hughes said. “I have to do better; that’s for sure.”

Of course, Hughes would have needed to pitch shutout ball to have any chance to win the second game because the Yankees’ bats went silent after the first-game victory. They scraped for three hits, all singles, off Dodgers starter Chris Capuano and fared no better against two relievers. Two of the Yankees’ hits were in the infield. They had one runner advance past second base and only one base runner at all after the fourth inning as the Dodgers retired 16 batters in a row. This was the sixth shutout loss of the season for the Yankees.

Hughes allowed at least five runs in a start for the fifth time. Although manager Joe Girardi said he has not been thinking about moving him out of the rotation, Hughes has cause for concern. The Yankees have two starting pitchers with major-league backgrounds at Triple A Scranton in Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, so there may be other options for Girardi down the road. With the two games Wednesday, the Yankees will need a starting pitcher out of the rotation Sunday.

Asked if he felt his spot in the rotation is in jeopardy, Hughes said, “My only concern is pitching well. Things I can’t control I can’t concern myself with.”

The Dodgers have struggled all year, but they were on all cylinders in the night game. Their first four batters got hits off Hughes. Hanley Ramirez, who was 6-for-8 (.750) with four RBI in the two games, had RBI singles in the first and fifth innings.

Yankees fans at both games definitely came away with a positive impression of Cuban-born rookie Yasiel Puig, who was 4-for-9 (.444) with one double, one home run, one RBI, one stolen base and four runs scored. He also played flawless defense in right field.

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