With the way the Yankees have scored runs lately, we should be thankful that the Yankees’ pitching held up in the first two games. Javier Vazquez couldn’t make like A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and that was clear from the beginning. The Twins hit the ball hard all night, while the Yankees’ bats languished. Again, this one would have stung a bit more had the Yanks not taken the first two, especially with the way they won last night.
Biggest Hit: Cano the deficit hawk
There was a point during last night’s game where the Yankees stood a chance. They had been down on the scoreboard all evening, but they had hit Nick Blackburn fairly hard, though the effort only resulted in one run through five innings. The Yanks threatened to change that immediately in the sixth. Mark Teixeira drove a first-pitch changeup to right-center for a leadoff double. Alex Rodriguez popped up to second, leaving the job up to Robinson Cano.
Blackburn delivered a first-pitch curveball right over the plate, and Cano pulled a grounder down the right field line. It went all the way to the corner, allowing Teixeira to score and Cano to reach second without a throw. Cano had cut the deficit in half and gave the Yanks two more chances to pull within one. But neither Nick Swisher nor Juan Miranda succeeded in his attempt.
Cano also drove in the Yankees’ first run, singling home Brett Gardner in the fourth.
Jason Kubel, Yankee killer
The lead here is easy. Kubel shocked the Yankees 11 days ago, spoiling a sweep at the Stadium. The follow up didn’t sting quite as badly, though the bar was set pretty high. It started in the second inning when Michael Cuddyer flied one into the gap in right-center. That brought up Kubel, who ran the count 2-2 before hitting a low curveball that caught a bit much of the plate. His gap shot put the Twins up 2-0. With none out in the inning, the Twins were still able to bring home Kubel when Alexi Casilla grounded into a double play.
An inning after Cano put the Yankees to within two, Kubel struck again. Javier Vazquez, who had settled down since the two-run second, stayed away from Kubel, laying three fastballs around but definitely outside the zone. On the 2-1 Vazquez went to his curveball and delivered it to nearly the same spot as he had the previous time against Kubel. This time he got all of it, sending it well over the wall and extending the Twins lead to 5-2.
In the seventh he had a clear advantage. Chad Gaudin does not pitch at all well against lefties. Kubel already had a double and a homer against a righty pitcher. Gaudin went to work, careful stay away from Kubel’s pull zone. He mostly succeeded, but on the ninth pitch it didn’t matter. Gaudin delivered a fastball outside, and Kubel got his arms extended. If there was any chance of a comeback at that point, it disappeared with that swing.
The Yankees collected 10 hits in the game, but had trouble putting together rallies. That seems to be the theme of the past few weeks. They had a chance to break the dry spell in the first, but Alex Rodriguez couldn’t get it done. With runners on the corners and one out he grounded one to short, which wasn’t the easiest double play but it was quick enough to beat A-Rod to first. He’s not going to succeed every time, but when runs are scarce his failures hurt plenty.
Nick Swisher followed Robinson Cano’s RBI single in the fourth with a single of his own, setting up the Yankees with runners on first and third with two out. Juan Miranda got a chance to give the Yanks another run and keep the inning going, but he instead grounded weakly to second.
Those were the only times the Yankees had more than one runner on base. After the Miranda groundout they went 1 for 12 the rest of the way.
At the beginning of the season Javy Vazquez pitched poorly. Then he pitched very well in two starts. Now he’s pitched poorly again. Can we create the Good Javy, Bad Javy designation, too? Because that’s so much fun.
Vazquez had the same problem with his fastball as he had earlier in the season. The lack of velocity is a concern secondary to his command, but velocity is a concern nonetheless. It looked like a slightly more contained start from earlier in the year, which is just what the Yanks can’t afford while they slump. Yanks have a streaking A-Rod and Teixeira? This start is a bit easier to stomach. But when the offense hasn’t worked, the Yanks need their pitchers more than ever.
Thankfully, Javy has a few easier starts to bounce back. He’ll get the Orioles next, though the Blue Jays have been hitting very well so far.
Said Girardi after the game: “He left some breaking pitches up.” Exactly.
WPA graph and box score
I have nothing nice to say about this WPA graph, so I will say nothing at all.
It’s quite an upcoming stretch for the Yankees. This weekend it’s a four-game set against the last-place Indians. Then the last-place Orioles come to town. The Yanks then fly up to Toronto, which will be their toughest games in this stretch. Then it’s down to play last-place Baltimore, and then back home for a weekend set against last-place Houston. If there is ever a time for the Yankees’ bats to wake up, it’s during this stretch.
The rejuvenated Fausto Carmona takes on Phil Hughes tomrrow night.