There’s ‘Good,’ and There’s ‘Pretty Good’

One day after being shut out by Hiroki Kuroda, the Angels fired back with six runs against [Phil] Hughes, who was knocked out in the fourth inning having allowed two home runs among the eight hits he yielded. … “I felt my stuff was pretty good,” [Hughes] said.

via Angels Feast on Yankees’ Pitching –

I really thought Hughes would start strong and have a breakout season (though, I have no good reason; his advocates point to his 18 wins in 2010, but these were accompanied by a steadily ballooning 4.19 earned run average), but he was wobbly in his first start and seemed to have trouble standing upright on Saturday. It’s early, of course, and it is never enough to simply look at the numbers, as Hughes himself said: “I felt my stuff was pretty good.”

Athletes are morons, of course, and so you can excuse that kind of comment. And you don’t have to worry about Hughes’s confidence. “I can call my dad,” he told reporters after the game. “He never boos me.”

But Hughes’s assessment of his performance was endorsed during the game by none other than Fox’s Tim McCarver, when McCarver wasn’t discussing his horribly dyed hair. McCarver, a former athlete who really was talking during the broadcast about his hair, praised Hughes’s pitching effusively and chalked the six-run onslaught up to baseball’s spiritual vagaries. This went on for some time, then Joe Buck firmly gripped McCarver’s leash and offered a gentle correction.

Not that McCarver is learning. He thought A. J. Burnett always pitched well, too, and all the time referred to Burnett’s curveball as the best in the major leagues. Even when it was skittering to the backstop or soaring over the outfield wall.

Making all of that digestible, though, was the continued competence of David Phelps, who retired the first 13 batters he faced this season — the longest streak by a Yankees rookie in five decades. It says here that Phelps has a real shot at becoming the next Joba Chamberlain. And by that I mean an unexpected, lockdown rookie reliever and not a guy who gets busted for drunken driving after leaving a strip club in rural Nebraska or loses his nerve whenever a bug buzzes in his ear.