ARLINGTON, Texas - Phil Hughes said all along he wasn't sure if it meant anything that two of the best starts of his career had come at Rangers Ballpark.
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Unfortunately for the Yankees, he went out Saturday and proved it didn't.
Hughes allowed 10 hits and was charged with seven runs in four-plus innings, putting the Yankees in a Game 2 hole not even they could climb out of. The Rangers' 7-2 win evened the American League Championship Series at a game apiece.
Hughes had allowed three hits and no runs in 141/3 innings in his two previous starts in Arlington. Among the hits he gave up Saturday were five doubles, a triple and a home run. The seven extra-base hits were the most Hughes has allowed in his career.
"You've got to give them credit sometimes," he said. "When I missed, they hit the ball hard. A lot of times when I miss, it's fouled off, but it just seemed like all my fastballs out over the plate were finding their barrels."
What's odd is that Hughes had electric stuff in the first inning, with his fastball reaching 95 mph. The Rangers took a 1-0 lead on a double steal, with Elvis Andrus scoring with two outs when Jorge Posada threw to second base in an attempt to get Josh Hamilton.
Hughes wasn't hit hard in that inning. But he was in nearly every inning after that.
"First inning - the run came in, but I felt like things were going all right," he said. "I had my swing-and-miss fastball going. When I went out there in the second inning, something just went wrong. It's tough to first of all figure out what it is and then make that adjustment."
Manager Joe Girardi thought he knew what it was. "He was up in the zone," he said. "Didn't have much of a curveball. It's a dangerous club . . . and they hurt him."
The Yankees got on the board in the fourth on Lance Berkman's run-scoring single, but Cruz doubled off the top of the centerfield wall to open the fifth and scored on Ian Kinsler's triple into the rightfield corner past a diving Nick Swisher. Joba Chamberlain then replaced Hughes.
Three of those five doubles and Kinsler's triple all were to the opposite field.
Hughes, who pitched seven shutout innings in the Yankees' ALDS-clinching Game 3 win over the Twins, was charged with his final run when Mitch Moreland smacked a two-out single to left off Chamberlain for a 7-1 lead.
Unless the Yankees change their rotation, Hughes' next start will come back here in Game 6, if it is needed. Before that start, presumably no one will be talking about how well he pitches in Arlington.