Hughes, Yankees Shut Down Rangers

5-1-07 - Phil Hughes was working on a no-hitter in the seventh inning of his second major league start when a hamstring injury cost him a chance to make history.

The Yankees' prized prospect is expected to miss four to six weeks, a sour end to an otherwise encouraging night for the last-place club. New York responded to criticism from owner George Steinbrenner in a big way Tuesday with a 10-1 rout of the Texas Rangers.

Hank Blalock hit a leadoff double against reliever Mike Myers in the eighth inning for Texas' first hit, not long after Hughes (1-1) became the latest Yankees pitcher to go down.

The 20-year-old right-hander, considered one of the top prospects in baseball, was cruising along in a dominant performance when he winced and grabbed the back of his left thigh after throwing an 0-2 breaking ball to Mark Teixeira with one out in the seventh. It was Hughes' 83rd pitch.

"He said he felt a pop," catcher Jorge Posada said.

Yankees manager Joe Torre, pitching coach Ron Guidry and a trainer came out to the mound to check on Hughes, who was removed from the game and walked gingerly back to the dugout, where he received a warm reception from teammates.

Hughes walked three and struck out six. He left with a 9-0 lead.

Hughes was called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill a spot in New York's injury-depleted rotation. Mike Mussina (hamstring), Carl Pavano (forearm) and Jeff Karstens (broken right leg) are on the disabled list. Chien-Ming Wang also missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury.

Ian Kinsler followed Blalock's double with an RBI single. Myers finished the eighth and Luis Vizcaino worked the ninth to complete the two-hitter.

New York's dismal first month -- which ended with a 9-14 record and 6 1/2 -game deficit to first-place Boston in the AL East -- roused Steinbrenner to issue his first public remarks of the season, at once throwing his support behind Torre and rebuking the team for its record.

Steinbrenner's vote of confidence in Torre and general manager Brian Cashman silenced, at least temporarily, speculation that their jobs were in jeopardy. But the notoriously demanding owner also termed the start by his $195 million team "clearly not acceptable."

But against the Rangers, Steinbrenner's comments seemed to cajole the Yankees to their most lopsided win of the season. The timing of the rout was similar to a 19-8 win over Tampa Bay in 2005, which followed an even more scathing lashing of his team following a 4-8 start that year.

Robinson Cano broke out of a 1-for-18 slump by going 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two doubles. Posada had three hits, three runs and two RBIs. Alex Rodriguez added three hits to raise his batting average to .371.

The Yankees also took advantage of three Texas errors.

Posada's two-run double highlighted a four-run third that made it 6-0. New York added three in the fifth on RBI doubles by Hideki Matsui and Posada, and a run-scoring single by Cano.

Before Tuesday's game, Torre said he hoped to hear no more questions about his future. He also blamed part of Yankees' recent trouble scoring runs on players "trying too hard."

But against the Rangers, it seemed like the Yankees hardly had to try.

New York's lineup battered Rangers starter Kameron Loe (0-2) for four innings, getting 10 hits and nine runs, including seven earned.

Before Tuesday's win, New York became the first major league team ever to use five or more pitchers in 10 straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau