For a pitcher who is struggling to establish himself and build confidence, the great thing about playing for the Yankees is the presence of consistent run support. Javier Vazquez benefited on Tuesday night with six-run support in his five-plus innings, and Phil Hughes wouldn't mind a similar cushion tonight in Oakland.
This will be the second start of the season for Hughes (1-0, 3.60 ERA) and his first-ever start against the Athletics after three previous relief appearances totaling 4 1/3 scoreless innings. No one in the A'slineup has more than two career at-bats against Hughes, but he's not that familiar with them either. Hughes threw just five-lus innings against the Angels because of a high pitch count resulting from five walks. He's still working on his changeup, the pitch he was required to have to win the fifth starter spot, throwing it only four times in his first start.
Sheets (1-0, 2.65), who turns 32 in July, missed all of last season while recovering from surgery on his right elbow and is starting over with a new team after eight seasons in Milwaukee. This will be his third start, and he's coming off a stint in which he threw six scoreless innings against a hapless Baltimore team that managed just five hits. For all his promise, Sheets is barely a .500 career pitcher (87-83), but his last two seasons with the Brewers were his best as he went a combined 25-14.