Switch! Hughes starts Game 2, with Andy in Game 3

New York Yankees' Phil Hughes (65) delivers a New York Yankees' Phil Hughes (65) delivers a pitch to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of ALDS Game 3. (Oct. 9, 2010) Photo Credit: John Dunn

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Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte are switching rotation spots for the ALCS.

The Yankees announced in an e-mail last night that Hughes will pitch Game 2 against the Rangers in Texas Saturday, followed by Pettitte in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium Monday night.

The Yankees also announced that, as expected, CC Sabathia will start the opener Friday night in Texas and A.J. Burnett will pitch Game 4. They did not make any changes to their 25-man roster.

Earlier in the day, Joe Girardi said before his team's workout in the Bronx he was not ready to make an official announcement on his rotation. But he hinted that Hughes would get strong consideration for Game 2 on the road, where he pitched considerably better this season.

Hughes was 7-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 13 road games (11 starts), compared to 11-4 with a 4.66 ERA in 18 starts at home during the regular season. Hughes also gave up 20 home runs in 1061/3 innings at Yankee Stadium, compared to only five in 70 innings on the road.

One of Hughes' most memorable games took place at Rangers Ballpark. On May 1, 2007, in only his second big-league start, Hughes had a no-hitter going but injured his hamstring and was forced to exit after 6 1/3 innings.

Hughes made another start at Rangers Ballpark in May last season and threw eight scoreless innings. "I guess I like pitching here a little bit," he said after that game, and clearly the Yankees haven't forgotten that.

"We'll look at numbers, we'll look at a lot of things," Girardi said of his rotation decisions earlier in the day. "Do you decide to go left-right-left-right? Or do you back your lefties together?"

One reason why the Yankees put Sabathia and Pettitte back-to-back in the ALDS was because the Twins' lineup was lefthanded-heavy. The Rangers' lineup is more balanced.

Also, Pettitte has never fared well at Rangers Ballpark, going 2-4 with an 8.22 ERA. He faced the Rangers once this season, April 18 at the Stadium, allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings in a 5-2 win.

So if the series goes beyond four games, Hughes will be lined up to pitch Game 6, also in Texas, with Pettitte in a Game 7.

The Yankees won't face lefty ace Cliff Lee until Game 3, but they don't think they caught a break because Texas needed five games to beat the Rays.

"He's as good as it gets, but they have a lot of other very good starters," Girardi said. "I think you could argue that C.J. Wilson's performance in Game 2 was just as good as Cliff Lee's in Game 1."

Wilson (15-8, 3.35), a lefty who allowed no runs in 61/3 innings in a Game 2 victory over the Rays, pitches Game 1. Wilson was 0-1 with a 5.65 ERA against the Yankees in three starts this season.

Yankees players weren't much interested in talking about Lee, who improved his postseason record to 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA with his Game 5 masterpiece.

"Let's think about C.J. Wilson first," Jorge Posada said. "We have to concentrate on Game 1.''

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