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SEA@NYY: Hughes dominates over 7 2/3 for third win

The Yankees have been waiting for Phil Hughes to find consistency, and the wait has been compounded by varying degrees of pressure, especially given the rash of injuries that has struck New York's pitching staff.

Coming off his two best starts of the season, Hughes will try to continue that success against Toronto on Thursday, one night after Hiroki Kuroda was roughed up for three homers and seven runs in the Blue Jays' 8-1 victory. In his last start, a win over the Mariners on Saturday, Hughes put together his longest outing of the year, tossing 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball that included four strikeouts and one walk.

That outing and a 6 2/3-innings, three-run effort on May 6 -- a win over the Royals -- have Hughes headed in the right direction following an inconsistent start to the season.

"I don't think, really, there's been a turning point," Hughes said of his last two starts. "It's been a process overall to get myself right. Sometimes you can hang onto momentum and stuff like that when you're pitching well. It's hard to get any worse than the beginning of the year.

"Be aggressive, but there's smart aggressive, too. Make good pitches, make smart pitches, but do everything aggressively. Use however many pitches I have, and really make the most of them."

Drew Hutchison, another young right-hander, will square off against Hughes. Hutchison is coming off the best start of his young career. The rookie allowed one earned run on three hits over six innings against the Twins in what was a sharp turnaround from his previous two outings combined, when he gave up nine earned runs and 15 hits.

Yankees: Cano finding a rhythm
• Robinson Cano got off to a slow start, hitting .267 with one home run and four RBIs in April, but the second baseman has turned it on of late. Cano is hitting .435 (17-for-39) with two home runs, 10 RBIs and six doubles in his last 10 games, raising his batting average from .255 to .302 during that stretch. Cano hit his 300th career double on Tuesday and is the Major League leader in two-baggers since making his big league debut on May 3, 2005.

• Ivan Nova remains confident he can make his next start, scheduled for Saturday against the Reds in New York. Nova, who left his start on Monday with a sprained and bruised right ankle, skipped his bullpen session on Wednesday and will be re-evaluated before Saturday's game.

"He came through the running fine; he feels better," manager Joe Girardi said. "Even if he doesn't throw a bullpen, I wouldn't rule out a start. Guys have skipped bullpen sessions before. He does feel better. He's heading in the right direction."

Blue Jays: Bautista starting to blast
• Though Jose Bautista's average is .199, the slugging outfielder is starting to tap into his massive power. Bautista, who hit 43 home runs last season, hit his sixth home run of May on Wednesday and has homered four times in his last six games. Bautista's shot on Wednesday was his 122nd with the Blue Jays, tying him with Jose Cruz Jr. for ninth in franchise history.

Worth noting
• Since the start of the 2011 season, Curtis Granderson has hit 20 home runs off left-handed pitchers. Granderson hit 19 home runs off southpaws from 2005-10.

• Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson hit his 100th career home run on Wednesday.

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