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Phil Hughes pitches to the Athletics in a dominant start on Wednesday night. (AP photo by Ben Margot)

Phil Hughes took an impressive no-hit try into the eighth inning last night, losing it when Eric Chavez bounced a hard comebacker off the pitcher’s forearm and chest in the New York Yankees’ 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Hughes (2-0) struck out a career-high 10 in the Yankees’ sixth straight win, with his parents in the stands to see it after driving up from Orange County for his outing. Hughes was in complete control until Chavez opened the eighth with that one-hopper back to the mound.

This was the second near-miss for the 23-year old future star. Hughes had a no-hitter through 6.1 innings in 2007 against Texas.

Hughes gave up only one hit in 7.1 innings and walked two.

Two batters after Chavez got aboard, Hughes walked Gabe Gross and was done. He was charged with Oakland’s lone run in the standout 101-pitch performance after pinch-hitter Jake Fox had an RBI single off Joba Chamberlain.

Mariano Rivera finished the three-hitter for his sixth save in as many chances.

Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back triples to start the fourth off A’s starter Ben Sheets. Posada followed Cano’s hit with an RBI groundout. Brett Gardner’s RBI single with two outs in the ninth provided an insurance run.

With the win last night, the Yankees matched the 1926 franchise record by winning its first five series of the season.

One very interesting tidbit that reflects the Yankees’ pitching dominance and defensive approach in each game is that they have held opponents to three or fewer runs in each game during their winning streak. With the exception of Javy Vazquez, the other four starters are a combined 8-0.

CC Sabathia takes the mound this afternoon going for the sweep of the A’s in front of the hometown crowd where he grew up. First pitch is for 3:35 p.m.

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Phil Hughes, last season’s long reliever in the bullpen, was named the Yankees fifth starter Thursday beating out Joba Chamberlain and others for the coveted last spot in the Yankee rotation.  Hughes will most likely have an innings limit this year, much like Joba had last year.  Some writers are speculating the limit could be around 170 innings, meaning we should see Joba or others make some starts toward the end of the season.

Hughes also beat out Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves and Chad Gaudin.  I forecast Mitre to be sent to AAA to stay warm as an injury replacement starter and Aceves back in the Yankee bullpen.  Gaudin was released outright this week after not earning the spot in the rotation and the Yankees felt paying him $2.95 million to pitch in Scranton was too much.  Since his contract was not guaranteed, it was a smart decision for the Yankees and I could definitly see Gaudin catching on strong elsewhere.

One other notable pitching story comes from Boston, the Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed that Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be ready to pitch for the Sox until a couple weeks into the season.  However, Tim Wakefield, the aging knuckleballer has most definitely earned his spot in the rotation.  Wakefield will apparently pitch until he gets so old his arm falls off.

Newly signed pitcher Chan Ho Park joined the Yankees Spring Training Workouts on Sunday after agreeing to a contract with the World Series Champs last week.  You might remember Park threw 3+ scoreless innings against the Yankees in the World Series as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

I missed this story since I was on vacation in Puerto Rico last week and I commend the Yankee brass on this move.  Acquiring Park at a measly $1.2 Million with a possible $300k in bonuses is a steal for a guy who has playoff experience and should be a nice setup man for Mariano Rivera.

To make room for Park, the Yankees designated Edwar Ramirez for assignment.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team pick him up – so adios Edwar!

Also on Sunday, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes threw their second batting practices of the spring and CC Sabathia threw his first.  According to the AP, Joba and Hughes will throw their first spring training game on Friday against Tampa Bay.  Sabathia will take his first start on Thursday.  No word on when the other three starting pitchers will get their first starts/appearances.

One story that I enjoyed finding out about Yankee traditions is that Yogi Berra has his golf clubs shipped to Tampa. These clubs were at first stored in Joe Torre’s office. Now they’re in Joe Girardi’s office.

Guess who was at the camp today? None other than Yogi.

The Yanks had a bunch of bullpen sessions. Both Hughes and Chamberlain threw today. The aces of the team — Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, and Vazquez are all not pitching for a few days as to preserve their arm for a possible long season ahead of them.

Chad Jennings has photos and a summary of today’s workout. He reports that Pettitte feels good, even though he did the most innings since 2002, and Pettitte says it’s because the team was able to preserve the starters in September for the playoff run.

Enjoy the photos and the summary from Chad!

(photo by Sipkin/NY Daily News)

The newest Yankee was introduced in a press conference today.

Said the new outfielder –

One thing I’ve learned over my world travels, being in China, being in Africa, being in Europe, Latin America, when you mention Major League Baseball… the Yankees are the first team that comes up… To get a chance to be a part of that now… I’m excited about that.

As previously discussed, Joba Chamberlain will have any innings limitations removed next year. Hopefully that will make him more effective since he won’t need to worry about pitch counts.

Phil Hughes’ limits will remain, but he’ll probably be allowed to go about 180 innings.

The Yankees are comfortable with Frankie Cervelli as the backup catcher. Good to hear, since he’s cheap, plays as well as Jose Molina, runs thrice as fast, and allows for Jesus Montero to continue developing.

Dr. Marc Philippon told A-Rod his hip is fine, and he will not need surgery this off-season.

Nick Johnson is close to agreeing with the Yankees on a contract, but has yet to take a physical. $5.5 million for one year. Does that mean Damon’s done as a Yankee?

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