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Phil Hughes strong, but New York Yankees can't complete sweep of Arizona Diamondbacks

04/19/2013 2:52 AM ET
By Joe Auriemma

The Arizona Diamondbacks persevered to avoid a three-game sweep to the New York Yankees.(AP)
The New York Yankees were seeking a series sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks before heading to Toronto to take on their division rival, the Blue Jays. The matchup of Phil Hughes and Patrick Corbin was set, but little did these two teams know that getaway day was going to turn into not just a pitcher's duel, but one of the more interesting and wacky games of this young season that ended with a 6-2 win for the D-backs.

Hughes blinked first, giving up a leadoff solo home run to Didi Gregorius in the top of the third on the very first pitch of the at-bat. This also marked Gregorius' first ever Major League home run.

The pitcher's duel continued until the top of the sixth when Hughes once again allowed the leadoff home run to Martin Prado. Hughes, who has a penchant for giving up the long ball, has now given up five home runs this season, all at home and all solo shots. However, other than these two blunders, he was terrific. In fact, his velocity was up; his control was very good and he was mixing his pitches perfectly.

"I thought he threw well," Joe Girardi said of Hughes' performance. "I thought he located a lot better. I thought he had his off-speed today. I thought he had his repertoire, where the last start he didn't have that."

Hughes went seven strong, allowing only those two runs on the solo home runs and admitted after the game that even with the performance, he would still like to limit the number of home runs he's giving up.

"I felt like I was being more aggressive," Hughes said of his start. "I talked to [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] and he got me back into that reliever mentality, just coming out of the gate and being more aggressive. I feel like I did a better job of that, I wasn't so worried about my mechanics and just went with what felt natural and giving it all I had."

On the other side, Corbin kept the Yankees in check. The Yankees once again fell victim to having trouble against left-handed starters, but to give Corbin credit, he was on-fire coming into this matchup. He committed his first and only blunder of the game giving up the long solo home run to Robinson Cano, who is in another world right now with his hot streak. Cano is now 14 for his last 34 (.412 BA) over his last eight games, with five home runs and 12 RBIs. The home run also ended a 16-inning scoreless streak for Corbin, who still had a slim 2-1 lead heading into the late innings.

The bullpen kept the Yankees in the game and the offense had a golden opportunity in the eighth inning to cash in and take the lead. However, after a four pitch walk to Vernon Wells to load the bases with one out, the Yankees failed to score any runs. Cano was hit with a pitch and was initially reward first base and the RBI, but the umpire crew overturned the call and claimed Cano had swung before being hit by the pitch and was called out on strikes. The next batter, Kevin Youkilis failed to drive home the runners keeping it a 2-1 affair.

In the top of the ninth, Gregorius reach base on a catcher's interference call, which loaded the bases with two outs, but the Yankees got out of the jam. That catcher's interference call would come into play later in this contest.

In the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Cervelli redeemed himself from the interference call and hit a game tying solo home run off of Arizona's closer J.J. Putz, injecting life back into the Yankees offense and sending the game to extra innings.

Once in extras, both the D-backs and Yankees held suit, until the top of the 11th when Arizona threatened to score off of reliever David Phelps, who has been terrific early on this season. Phelps gave up a leadoff double to Cody Ross and walked former Yankee Eric Chavez, but he battled out of the inning.

He wouldn't be so lucky in the top of the 12th. Once again Phelps fell behind giving up a leadoff double to Gerardo Parra, who was 0-for-5 in the game up to that point.

After a Martin Prado fly out to center that allowed Parra to tag and get to third, Yankees killer in the series Paul Goldschmidt stepped up to the plate. In a stunning turn of events, for the second time in the game, Cervelli was called for catcher's interference allowing Goldschmidt to reach first putting runners on the corners.

"Well you don't see it twice usually," Girardi said of Cervelli's catcher interference calls. "They took some really late swings. He was probably a little bit too close; off a team you don't necessarily know so well, so there are a few guys that have a history doing that, having late swings like that with a team that you haven't seen."

"Yeah, it's a tough one," Cervelli said. "They were a little late on the swings and I was too close twice."

He also went on to say that he's never seen a catcher interference call twice in one game and he's correct, it is a rare occasion. Cervelli became the first Yankee to have that happen to him and only the 17th catcher in Major League history to have this happen to him in a game.

Phelps, a bit rattled at this point, hit Miguel Montero with the pitch to load the bases and then the Yankees good fortune against the D-backs ran out. Cody Ross smoked the go-ahead single to left to give Arizona the 3-2 lead only to be followed up by Chavez driving in the nail against his former team with a bases clearing double to give the D-backs the 6-2 lead and ultimately the victory.

"It's difficult," Phelps said. "In an extra inning game they're looking to score one run; (after a double), a bunt and a sac fly and they score, so you really have to get to making pitches right away and make better pitches, that's what it boils down to."

Ultimately the Yankees didn't earn the sweep on getaway day and the focus to the team is now solely on getting back into the win column north of the border against the Blue Jays.

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