The New York Yankees' veteran starting pitchers have had some trouble in recent days. Perhaps youngster Phil Hughes can provide a spark.
Coming off their first loss in five contests, the Yankees send Hughes to the mound in the finale of a four-game set with the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.New York (13-11) leads the series 2-1 even though A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia have posted a combined 6.05 ERA.Sabathia, who signed a $161 million, seven-year contract in the offseason, gave up five runs -- four earned -- as the Yankees had a four-game winning streak end with an 8-4 loss to the Angels (10-13) on Saturday."That's a team that can beat you in a lot of different ways," New York first baseman Mark Teixeira told the team's official Web site.The Yankees' most consistent starter has been 23-year-old Joba Chamberlain, who is 1-0 with a 3.13 ERA. He's now joined in the rotation by Hughes, a 22-year-old right-hander who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday to replace the injured Chien-Ming Wang.Hughes won his first start of the season Tuesday night, allowing two hits and striking out six in six innings as New York beat Detroit 11-0. It was his first victory since 2007.Hughes struggled in his only appearance against Los Angeles, surrendering five runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings as the Yankees lost 7-6 in 10 innings Aug. 20, 2007.He'll be matched up with Angels ace Joe Saunders (3-1, 3.41 ERA), who has won each of his two road starts this season, posting a 2.08 ERA. He pitched at Baltimore in his last outing, giving up four runs -- two earned -- and 10 hits in six innings in a 7-5 win Tuesday night.The left-hander, though, is 1-1 with a 7.63 ERA in three starts against New York.Saunders will face a Yankees lineup that may again be without home run leader Nick Swisher, who sat out Saturday while receiving treatment on a bruised right elbow suffered when he was hit by a pitch in New York's 10-9 win Friday night.Swisher, batting .312 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs, was replaced in right field by Melky Cabrera on Saturday.Without Swisher, the Yankees went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position after averaging 9.0 runs in their previous four games.Los Angeles managed just fine without leading hitter Bobby Abreu, who sat out with a tight lower back. It was merely a precautionary day off and the veteran is expected to be back in the lineup Sunday.Abreu, signed to a one-year deal after spending the past 2 1/2 seasons with New York, had played every game. He's hitting .356 and his 11 steals without getting caught lead the American League.Los Angeles shortstop Erick Aybar may have to sit out after being hit in the jaw by a throw to second base on Derek Jeter's attempted steal Saturday. Aybar received several stitches in his upper lip and his status for Sunday's game is uncertain."We'll see," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.Maicer Izturis would likely start if Aybar can't play. The Angels already have seven players -- six pitchers -- on the disabled list.