Phil Hughes threw seven strong innings, striking out the first five batters he faced, and Robinson Cano hit a grand slam and finished with three hits as the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-2.

It is high... It is far... . REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

Initial Reaction:

In each of his previous two starts, Phil Hughes struggled to retire batters with two outs. Tonight, that was not the case. He started the game with five straight punchouts, and was able to put the hammer down when needed – something he had been lacking since his last win and last solid start. The only blemishes on Hughes’ strong outing were a Russell Branyan solo shot in the seventh inning, and a Jhonny Peralta RBI double in the fourth. He is now 6-1 on the season, with a 2.70 ERA.

When the Yankees returned to the Bronx on Friday, they were reunited with their offense – something they mistakenly forgot to pack on their recent road trip. After scoring just 15 runs during their 3-3 trip to Queens and Minneapolis, the Yankees broke open a one-run lead with two runs in the sixth, and Cano’s seventh-inning slam put it away for good.

Positives From The Game:

Hughes was terrific, striking out eight guys and allowing just six baserunners (five hits and a walk) in seven innings of work. He threw 76 of his 109 pitches for strikes (69.7%), and got twice as many ground ball outs as fly outs. Maybe his most impressive stat tonight, Hughes allowed only one two-strike hit – compared to nine over his prior two starts.

If Ya Don’t Know … : Now ya know. With Alex Rodriguez getting the night off, Robinson Cano flourished batting cleanup for the first time in his career. He went 3-for-4 with 3 runs, a grand slam, and drew a walk.

The Long Ball: Both Nick Swisher and Cano went deep (watch Swisher’s blast here, and Cano’s slam here). All that needs to be said: chicks dig it.

Some Love With The Glove: Mark Teixeira showed why he is one of MLB’s top defensive first basemen. Teix had six grounders hit his way, making great plays on balls that took strange hops and on balls hit hard right at him.

Welcome Back: In his first game since May 1, Curtis Granderson reached base three times, including a sharp double and a walk, and scored a run. Most importantly, he moved around in the outfield with ease. Welcome back, Curtis.

Negatives From The Game:

No Complaints: Nothing* really warrants being put in the ‘negatives’ section.

*Maybe One Thing: Nine runners left on base tonight…then again, that’s something that isn’t a real big deal when you score eight runs and you’re playing Cleveland.

Interesting Facts:

Robbie Cano leads all Yankee regulars in the three major hitting categories: batting average (.351), home runs (10), and RBI (34).

Phil Hughes continues to be one of the biggest surprises in the early part of the 2010 season, with a 39:8 K:BB ratio in his last 38.2 innings (six starts).

Nick Swisher’s May splits: .351, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 18 R, .425 OBP

What’s Next?: Game two of the Yanks’ four-game Memorial Day Weekend series against Cleveland.

Saturday, May 29, YES Network, 1:05 PM: David Huff (2-6, 5.25 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.86 ERA)

Career Stats:
Huff vs. NY: has never faced the Yankees
Sabathia vs. CLE: 1-0, 2.84 ERA (two starts); 2-0, 1.29 ERA at Yankee Stadium in 2010

**Huff is 0-5 with a 5.90 ERA on the road this season