Joe Girardi didn't hesitate when asked if Phil Hughes was still in line to pitch tomorrow night in Detroit, despite the Yankees being in a two-game hole in the ALCS.

"He is Game 3," the manager said after yesterday's 3-0 loss to the Tigers in Game 2.

Not only will the inconsistent Hughes be up against a confident Detroit team, he will also have to deal with pitching against Justin Verlander and a Yankees' offense that has been virtually silent throughout the postseason.

"We're not in the position we want to be in, but we'll go there and we have a chance," Hughes said. "We don't want to lose both games at home, but we can't worry about that and I can't worry about our offense."

If Hughes is looking for reason to be confident heading into tomorrow's game, perhaps he can recall the last time he matched up against Verlander at Comerica Park.

Hughes pitched the first complete game of his major-league career and beat Verlander, 5-1.

That was on June 3 and the loss dropped Verlander 's record to 5-4 and sunk the Tigers five games under .500, so Hughes will be facing a different Detroit team.

He also lost in Detroit on August 7, when he failed to get out of the fifth inning in a 6-5 defeat — part of his roller-coaster season.

After a rough end to the year, Hughes bounced back in the ALDS. Despite getting a no-decision in a Game 4 loss to Baltimore, Hughes pitched well, surrendering just one run in 6 2/3 innings.

Tomorrow, he will try to beat the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner again.