Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/9/14
Phil Hughes’ next outing is scheduled for Sunday in Colorado. So even if he made the AL All-Star team he would have been unable to pitch in the Midsummer Classic because of a league rule prohibiting pitchers who start so close to the game from appearing. But Hughes had sealed his own fate, anyway, with his previous three starts. He gave up five, five and seven runs in those outings, ruining what had been an impressive start to his Twins career. Hughes didn’t need an All-Star Game to validate his bounce-back season, but he needed a well-pitched game Tuesday to stop his slide. He was presented with the Mariners, a team largely without threatening hitters. Hughes used them as a slumpbuster and twirled his way to a 2-0 victory over Seattle at Safeco Field. “You could see it early. He was pounding the strike zone, working ahead in the count,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “A lot of fastballs. When he did use his breaking ball, it was sharp, too. He went right at them. He kept throwing the same way the entire time.’’ It was a much-needed victory for the Twins, losers of 11 of their previous 14 games. They also had lost 11 of their past 12 on the road. Hughes pitched 7 ⅓ shutout innings, giving up eight hits, striking out eight and walking none, as he improved to 9-5 while lowering his ERA to 3.70. It was Bark at the Park night at Safeco, meaning fans were allowed to bring their dogs to the game and sit in a section reserved for them. The offenses for both clubs could be summed up with one word: Woof. But Twins outfielder Sam Fuld hit a home run off Seattle righthander Chris Young in the fifth inning for the first run of the game, and it held up. Hughes came out filling the strike zone as he likes to do, retiring eight of the first nine batters he faced. Seattle got a runner to second base in the third inning, and Logan Morrison led off the fourth inning with a double. That was it in terms of runners in scoring position during first seven innings. “I felt like my fastball command was good tonight, and I worked from there,’’ Hughes said. It was the 14th time in 18 starts Hughes has pitched at least six innings in a start. He threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the first 20 batters he faced.
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