Yankees lose as Vidal Nuño allows walk-off HR in 10th
BALTIMORE -- Phil Hughes seemed to recover just fine from his previous outing, which he described as a "nightmare.''
It remains to be seen if rookie Vidal Nuño is similarly blessed with a pitcher's best friend (besides a double play): a short memory.
The lefthander, perhaps rusty after having not pitched since May 13, allowed a walk-off homer to Nate McLouth leading off the 10th inning in the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Orioles Tuesday night at Camden Yards.
"It was supposed to be a cutter away and it was a little off and he took advantage of it,'' said Nuño, who threw five shutout innings May 13 against the Indians in his first big-league start. "One pitch, it cost us the game, but you have to forget about it.''
The home run, on a 1-and-1 pitch, was the first crack in what was another strong performance by the Yankees' bullpen, which came into the game with a 1.66 ERA this month. "He took advantage of a bad pitch,'' Nuño said.
"He left one pitch up, I've had it happen to me,'' Robertson, who struck out the side in the eighth, said in support of Nuño. "It stinks. No one wants to be the guy that loses a ballgame.''
Of course, focusing solely on Nuño would be foolhardy.
The Yankees (28-16), still winners of 10 of their last 14 games, did little against righthander Miguel Gonzalez, activated from the disabled list (right thumb blister) earlier in the day.
Gonzalez, though he came in 2-2 with a 4.58 ERA, had had success against the Yankees -- 2-1, 2.75 ERA in three starts. He pitched more to those numbers Tuesday night, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings.
But it's not as if the Yankees left runners aboard all night. As Girardi said, "We didn't have a lot of opportunities'' -- against Gonzalez or anyone else. The Yankees were 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded three.
Hughes mostly put his last start (seven runs in two-thirds of an inning in a 12-2 loss to the Mariners) behind him.
In the unlikely sentence department: Only the power of former Yankee Chris Dickerson kept Hughes from six shutout innings. He allowed two runs on homers by Dickerson, who came in with 12 in his career. Both were on fastballs that got too much of the plate.
Hughes, who felt he was "out of rhythm'' pitching from the windup, gave up five hits in six innings. Still, using the same word his manager did, the righthander was "encouraged.''
"For the most part I thought my stuff was pretty good,'' Hughes said. "Obviously a lot better than last time. Hopefully, I build off this one.''
Brett Gardner's leadoff double in the first and a two-out single by Travis Hafner, who had two hits and two RBIs after his big performance Monday, gave Hughes a 1-0 lead. Dickerson tied it in the third, and after Hafner's RBI single made it 2-1 in the fourth, Dickerson did it again in the fifth.
"To be honest, nothing about the last start really crept into my mind at all,'' Hughes said. "It was just about trying to get that next guy and execute that next pitch.''
Except for a couple of poorly placed fastballs that an unlikely suspect took advantage of, Hughes mostly did.