Vazquez strong again as Yanks take game one of 2010 Subway Series 2-1

Postgame Notes: "Really not that bad."
Bleich likely headed for shoulder surgery

Coming off three straight losses to division rivals, the Yankees needed to get out of the Bronx just to get the awful taste out of their mouths and get a fresh start. Luckily they didn’t have to go that far, just a few extra miles to play their little brother in Queens. Javy Vazquez was making his first start in nine days, but if anything, it looks like the extra rest agrees with the guy who, oddly, has been the team’s best pitcher the last two times through the rotation.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

The Rookie Gets It Done

With players dropping left and right due to a variety of sometimes comical injuries, the Yankees have had to use their bench a little more this month than they would have liked. Today’s hero was making his first big league start, at a position he’s played a grand total of seven times before, no less. Such is life when dealing with the wrath of the injury gods.

"Ruuuuuuuusso." Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Kevin Russo, a 20th round pick in 2006, picked up his first big league hit in his first plate appearance of the night, a legit single to center. With that milestone out of the way, Russo went ahead and got his first career ten pitch at-bat out of the way his next time up, and moved on to the runs batted in his third at-bat. With the game still scoreless in the 7th inning, the Yanks had a rally brewing after a leadoff walk and a classic Mets’ self-destruct error. Men were on second and third with no outs, so all the rookie had to do was slap a ball to the right side to get the job done. Even if he made an out, it was all good. The Yanks would take the lead.

An out wasn’t acceptable to Russo, who jumped all over an 83 mph slider from hey-look-he’s-still-in-the-league Elmer Dessens and sent the ball deep into the rightfield corner. Both runs scored with ease, and Russo trotted into second with his first career double, first career RBIs, and first career game-winning hit. Not a bad day, not a bad day at all.

You Jav To Be Kidding Me

Some things in life just aren’t fair. Given how poorly the season started for Javy Vazquez, you couldn’t help but feel good for the guy after his strong start in Detroit and big time relief appearance on Monday. He was returning to his National League roots tonight, so things were in his favor right from the get go, and he took advantage.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Even though his velocity sat in the high-80’s for most of the night, Vazquez cruised into the 4th inning having allowed just one baserunner, a 6 pitch walk to Alex Cora. Walking the worst non-pitcher hitter in the other team’s lineup is pretty inexcusable, so of course Javy walked him again (on four pitches!) to lead off the 4th. However, he managed to escape the inning on a pair of fly outs and a caught stealing, which was a common theme on the night. Javy was getting easy outs, nothing too difficult for the fielders, nothing that hard hit, it was all going according to plan.

The Mets didn’t pick up their first hit until there was one out in the 5th, and Vazquez pitched right around that baserunner and cruised through six innings of work on 70 stress-free pitches. It was a complete game pace, which was something the Yankees would have welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately Vazquez never got a chance to complete the game, or even start the 7th inning because he suffered a bruised right index finger laying down a sacrifice bunt in top of the frame. Thankfully, x-rays were negative, though his next start is in question until further notice.

It’s just par for the course these days.

Squandered Opportunities

The Yanks have developed a bad habit of not capitalizing on scoring opportunities, and that trend continued tonight. Frankie Cervelli led off the 3rd with a hard fought walk after falling behind 0-2, and Russo followed with a single. Vazquez bunted Russo over (Cervelli went first to third on the single), giving Derek Jeter a chance to drive in a run even by making an out. Instead, the Cap’n took three strikes (out of five total pitches) to gift Mets’ starter Hisanori Takahashi the second out of the inning, and Brett Gardner wrapped up the frame with a relatively weak ground out to third. Leaving men in scoring position would soon become the theme of the night.

With runners on first and third with one out in the very next inning, Nick Swisher swung and missed at three junk balls in a five pitch at-bat when a moderately deep fly ball would have given the Yanks a lead. The speed on those three pitches he swung through: 80, 70, and 79. Just brutal, he was out in front of everything. The inning ended one batter later when Cervelli flied out harmlessly to center.

Fast forward to the 6th, when Alex Rodriguez started a late rally by doubling to right with two outs. It was a pure hustle double given Jeff Francoeur’s strong arm. I guess you could say he needed all four legs to beat it out. Robbie Cano fought valiantly to work the count full, but he swung through an 80 mph somethingball (Gameday says it was a sinker, but whatevs) to end the frame.

The Yankees lineup is far too good to keep squandering these opportunities, but it’s definitely cost them over the last week, and it wasn’t far from costing them again tonight.

Things That Were Good

How about that Joba Chamberlain character? After a pair of dreadful outings, he came out and grunted and farted his way to a pair of huge strikeouts to end a 7th inning threat, then he came out to work a completely uneventful 8th inning. Five batters faced, three strikeouts, one ground out, and one lazy fly. Just like Joe Girardi drew it up.

Russo and Vazquez saw 18 pitches combined in the 5th inning. Even though they both made outs, what more could you ask for from your 8-9 hitters? All told, Vazquez had three productive at-bats (for a pitcher) when you add in the two sacrifice bunts.

Just because it needs to be mentioned: Russo is the sixth player from the Yanks’ 2006 draft class to make it to the big leagues. That’s an unreal number just four years out. Zach McAllister and Colin Curtis are right on the doorstep as well.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

How about Cervelli throwing Cora out at second from his knees to end the 4th? From his knees!

Things That Were Bad

Gardner squaring around to bunt with Jeter on first base in the 1st (!!!) inning. That’s just terrible. Just because you’re in an NL park doesn’t mean you have to play an NL style.

Two walks to Cora? Two?! C’mon Javy, you’re better than that.

This was my first time at CitiField ever, and it seems like balls hit to the outfield just die here. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to play 81 games in this place.

WPA Graph & Box Score has the old school box score, FanGraphs the new school funny acronyms.

Up Next

Same two teams tomorrow night in a rare Saturday night game. FOX will have the prime time broadcast, and Joe will be in the press box to bring you everything your heart desires. Phil Hughes vs. Mike Pelfrey in a battle of former first round picks.

Postgame Notes: "Really not that bad."
Bleich likely headed for shoulder surgery
  • I Collect Brett Gardner Cards

    great recap. no lie.
    You JAV got to be kidding.


  • dkidd

    maybe the rash of injuries will help the msm notice that the yanks do more than just throw money at free agents

    9 of tonight’s 16 contributing players were homegrown

    • JobaTheHeat62

      hey we may spend some money, but roster percentage wise last few years, we have been near the top for homegrown players. I love dropping such facts on my Yankee hating friends who play the same cards over and over again..payroll, etc.

      • dygg

        To be fair though, the argument isn’t just a matter of whether or not they are homegrown. Fact is, the Rays and the Brewers and the blah blah blah wouldn’t be able to resign the core four for 8 figure contracts. BUT, having said that Gardner, Cervelli, Russo, Robertson, Chamberlain, and Miranda combined make less than $5 million. Not to mention Hughes.

        • Captain Jack

          Or players like Nick Swisher, Nick Johnson (I know, :() Curtis Granderson, and Andy Pettitte all of who are signed to reasonable contracts. As to the Brewers…that nice ass stadium with a half way motivated fan base they should be able to keep Fielder for a bit, and they have Braun singed through 2015, they can just shut the fuck up. The Rays? I mean…they can’t even get a new stadium worked out, the Trop is the most depressing place to watch baseball ever (outside of Boston for reasons not related to Fenway Park…just those who infect it) with a stadium like that they don’t deserve to have good players come and sign with them.

    • Salty Buggah

      I know the Yankees money obviously helps in regaining homegrown stars and sometimes in trades for (somewhat) expensive players (i.e. A-Rod, and even Javy) as dygg said above me but, of those 16 contributers, only TWO were signed as FAs. Teixeira and Winn (and Winn shouldn’t even count really since he barely played and was signed as a 4th OFer).

  • a fan

    This was an entertaining game. As a completely random side note, Jason Bay’s weird SSS success against Mo pisses me off a bit.

    Methinks we see this game on Yankees classics in a few weeks along with that BoSox thriller.

    • JobaTheHeat62

      i thought Bay was only 1 for 5 with a HR coming into tonight?

      • poster

        Yep; but 2 for 6 with a HR and a double translates to a 33 average with both hits for extra bases and one being a HR. So a fan is right; Bay does indeed have SSS success against Mo, and it’s rather annoying.

        • poster

          .333 average. A bit different fom a 33 average.

      • Captain Jack

        That’s still a 1.000 OPS.

  • Carlosologist

    Tonight’s win was great. Javy is flashing forms of his 2009. What’s important is that the Yanks are cutting away at the division deficit. They only stand four games out. If the Rays happen to get swept by the Astros (lol), and the Yanks sweep the Mets, the Yanks will only be a game back. Tonight’s win provides me with much more confidence.

  • Dela G

    great effing win

  • (The Real) James

    me likey NL Javy.

    • Dela G

      he was good against the tigers….

      • (The Real) James

        uh huh.

        how bout: Me likey pitchers park javy.

        • Salty Buggah

          Yes, but Detroit in 5th in the AL in OPS and 7th in runs scored, so he wasn’t facing a shitty team. Also, Javy career at Detroit: 4.36 ERA in 95 innings so it’s not like he’s had much success there. He had to have pitched well to have come have given up only 2 runs in 7 IP. Any more excuses for his success?

          • Salty Buggah

            Ignore all the grammatical errors I made

          • Captain Jack

            Small Sample Size? I mean…both starts were encouraging which can’t be seen as anything but a good thing…however they both came off extended rest. I look forward to seeing what he does in his next start, which I hope is four days from now.

            • Salty Buggah

              Perhaps you have a point about extended rest and we need to see if he’ll pitch well next time to declare anything. However, Javy has a 4.79 ERA in 270.1 IP after 6+ days of rest, so that doesn’t really go along with the theory that he pitched well due to a lot of rest.

              I would think his rest has little to do with his success and more to with better mechanics and fastball command. But I do agree we need to see what he does in his next start.

      • Captain Jack

        Yet bad against every other AL Team he faced…

        The SSS door swings both ways. It’s encouraging to see him at least dominate NL lineups though, if he gets the velocity back in the 90s he should be fine the rest of the way out.

        • Salty Buggah

          Agreed about SSS both ways. However, the Javy we saw before was obviously not the normal Javy. Now he’s not a 2 ER in 13 IP pitcher but he’s closer to that than a 9+ ERA. He simply struggled with mechanical issues and control/command. Now as he regains his normal form, he should be good AL or NL. Even if he doesn’t get his normal velocity back, he should be OK. Would it help? Of course but for him, I think it’s really not that vital, as he a pretty good arsenal.

          • Salty Buggah

            Damn, ugly writing tonight.

            • Carl

              Not knowing when you’re gonna pitch can’t help anyone.

          • Captain Jack

            Yeah, when he was sucking I thought he was wrong with him…which is why I wanted him DLed for a bit until he can locate his fastballs. I excused a bad start against Tampa, yeah Carlos Pena will run into an 88MPH two seamer on the hands and other guys in that line up can knock it out of the park…after his third start I started to worry. He wasn’t right, and he needed something to fix it. I think the velocity is important, he at least needs to throw 90, it’s the AL East and hitters can hit him if he doesn’t have his best stuff. He doesn’t have the pitchability of Mike Mussina to get through this brutal division that he has to pitch in. I’m not a Javy hater at all, I’d love to see him come back and throw up the rock in redemption. It’s unfortunate that a pitcher as talented as him has three fan bases that absolutely hate him, I’d love to see him give the haters a good “tell me how my ass tastes.” Whether or not he’s capable of doing so, I’m unsure about.

            • mike c

              Winning does funny things to a fanbase

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Wow. Who has pitched the best in their last 2 starts from the rotation? Javy Vazquez, come on down and pick up the SSS Award.

    • Captain Jack

      I mean…they’re still four back in the East with injuries out the ass, so I feel it necessary to kill the optimism, keep that in mind when you read this next comment:

      That’s like saying “hottest fat chick”

  • YankeesJunkie

    It was great to see Javy carve up an NL lineup. He had decent command throughout the game and was able to mix pitches to leave the Mets hitters clueless. It was a shame that he had to leave with that finger injury because he could have gone the distance tonight. Hopefully he makes his next start on Thursday and continue to work on his now “sparkling” 6.69 ERA.

  • mko

    Vazquez got the results, but it didn’t look like his command was back to normal yet. I thought he was effectively wild. A lot of times Cervelli would set up down on the outside corner and the pitches ended up middle high. Luckily, the Mets couldn’t do anything with them.

    I think that ballpark in Queens is pretty beautiful. Also, I actually prefer the NL rules. Stupid DH…;-)

    I guess it can get frustrating if you hit balls hard and they would have been home runs in every other ballpark. But if all ballparks had similar dimensions, it wouldn’t be as frustrating. So for me, the ideal ballpark is somewhere in the middle of CitiField and Yankee Stadium. Like AT&T Park or Safeco Field. Or Turner Field, although I don’t like it almost completely symmetrical like Turner Field is.

    • Captain Jack

      I think that ballpark in Queens is pretty beautiful. Also, I actually prefer the NL rules. Stupid DH…;-)

      Yeah if it weren’t for the DH, the Yanks’ injury problems wouldn’t look half as bad


    • mike c

      70 pitches thru 7 innings is pretty good command

  • 28 this year

    My dad was watching the game with me and he doesn’t know much about baseball in general but understands some stuff. I was all pissed over Gardner bunting in the first inning and my dad goes in the 6th inning that Girardi was right to play for one run in the first inning because clearly he knew that today was going to be a low scoring game. I was like you can’t know that. Who knew what Vazquez would give you adn the Mets had spot starter you would expect the Yankees to crush. And it was only the first inning.

  • Yank fan since ’73

    I believe if Mr.Chamberlain is the heir apparent to the bullpen throne he’d better come into the game with his game face and “A” game ready to challenge hitters with his explosive fastball. He seems at times like a lost puppy looking up into the stands wondering who or where is his master before he delivers a pitch. Why not just keep the intimidating glare to finish with the extreme fist pump to dot the eye after a dominant appearance instead of a lost boy look. Get it together brother you’ve been here for a spell and should already know what we expect you to do, Get Batters out with a vengeance!

    • Cult of Basebaal

      Yank fan since ’73: We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
      David Robertson: A good mound, moving fastball, curveball at your command, and an appreciative crowd.
      Yank fan since ’73: Wrong! Joba! What is best in life?
      Joba: To crush your opponents, send them sprawling in the dirt at home plate, and to hear the lamentation of their fans.
      Yank fan since ’73: That is good! That is good!

      • mike c

        i’m going to have to go with yank fan here

    • CNight_UP