Yankees provide no support for Hughes

Finding the silver lining some days is virtually impossible. Thursday was one of those days for the Yankees. The 2-0 loss to the Rangers at least went by quickly – 2 hours, 24 minutes – well ahead of the severe thunderstorm activity that was forecast.

There was little thunder and lightning in the Yankees’ offense as they were limited to two hits, both singles, and two walks by Derek Holland, who entered the start with a career mark against the Yankees of 0-5 with an 8.85 ERA. The lefthander mixed a hard fastball with a tantalizing slider to win for the first time in five starts since May 31 with a complete-game shutout, the first of each for him this year.

“He got ahead of hitters with his fastball and was able to put them away a lot of times with his slider,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Yet as dominant as Holland was, the Yankees were never really out of the game, and that was because of Phil Hughes, who did much to keep a hold on his spot in the rotation. Hughes clearly was the silver lining in this one. The only real mistake he made was a 1-1 changeup to Jurickson Profar, a left-handed hitting third baseman who crushed it to lead off the fifth inning with a home run to right field.

The other run off Hughes came in a strange third inning. David Murphy led off with a single. Murphy tried to steal second base on a pitch that Profar took for ball four. When Murphy came off the bag to brush off his uniform, shortstop Jayson Nix alertly tagged him. Murphy was called out. Other players should have taken notice of Nix’s move. Hey, you never know.

Engel Beltre, a rookie getting a start in center field, singled to right field, moving Profar to third base from where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler. Beltre, no relation to Adrian Beltre, Texas’ regular third baseman who served as the designate hitter, was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in the Bronx, so it was somehow fitting that he got his first major-league hit at Yankee Stadium. Before this series, Engel Beltre’s last appearance at the Stadium was in a PSAL Championship game for James Monroe High.

Hughes had been pushed back two days in the rotation and said it worked to his benefit. “It gave me a chance to step back and work on things I needed to do to move in the right direction,” he said. “I felt I had a better plan.”

The righthander threw 106 pitches over eight innings. In addition to the walk, he also hit a batter and struck out five. The bottom of the order hurt Hughes, not the top or middle. The 1-through-6 hitters for Texas were 2-for-20 (.100) off Hughes, whose overall record fell to 3-7, including 1-5 at the Stadium with a 5.86 ERA.

As good as Hughes was, the piddling offense was the game’s true story for the Yankees. They got a leadoff single in the first inning from Ichiro Suzuki and a two-out single from Austin Romine in the third. That and two leadoff walks was it. Holland retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced. Vernon Wells, getting a rare recent start in right field, batted cleanup and struck out three times, all on sliders.

It was the seventh time this season that the Yankees have been shut out. The blanking came the day after the first game this year that the Yankees did not win when they scored at least five runs.

“We’re struggling right now,” Girardi said. “I think we will get better, but time will tell.”

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