No drama; just quiet efficiency from Javier Vazquez and the Yankees…
During the last road trip, the Yankees struggled in the games following their cross-country jaunts…both to and from. Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on a 10th inning walk-off run-scoring single by Marcus Thames before heading to California. With no off-day, they played the Oakland A’s on Monday night and picked up another win, 3-1. This time, they led from beginning to end, and everyone did exactly what they were supposed to.
Javier Vazquez has definitely rebounded from his disastrous start and has quietly been the Yankees most effective starter for the past month. He pitched 7 innings, and only gave up 3 hits and 1 run (he walked 2 and struck out 2). Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera retired all three batters they faced in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively. No runners in scoring position. No wild pitches. No balks. No hit batters. No bloop singles. It was exactly what you would want from a pitching staff. It was nice seeing a pitcher other than a Yankee with a hand to the face for a change (I like to call this the CC Sabathia pose…okay, “like” might not be the right word)…
The Yankees had scored early with two runs in the 2nd innings thanks to a run-scoring triple by Curtis Granderson and a run-scoring single by Francisco Cervelli. The A’s answered with a run in the 3rd when Coco Crisp hit a sacrifice fly to score Cliff Pennington, who had tripled. It would be the final time in the game for the A’s to get a runner past second base. Mark Teixeira added an insurance run with a homer in the 6th inning. Only two batters in the Yankees lineup were hitless (Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez).
Monica M. Davey/EPA
Game time was only 2 hours, 35 minutes. Very un-Yankee like!
For all the wins this year, I’d say that this one had the least amount of stress that I’ve experienced and that includes any blowouts. On one hand, I have very excited that Javier Vazquez has turned it around. I was starting to buy into the talk that he wasn’t anything more than a National League pitcher. Of course, I do have the fear that he could revert to the awful early season form. The downside, if that happens, is that the timing of his improvement probably nixes any chance that the Yankees would pursue Seattle’s Cliff Lee. The team has greater needs, but Lee would be a nice addition given the strong potential for Andy Pettitte’s off-season retirement and Vazquez’s impending free agency.
Speaking of Pettitte, congratulations to him for making the American League All-Star Team as a replacement for Boston’s injured starter Clay Buchholz. The AL All-Stars are definitely taking a very Yankee-like appearance, however, I do feel that the starter in the All-Star Game should be Boston’s Jon Lester.
Since I’ve made the segue to the Red Sox, it’s time for another installment of my “forced” spotlight on a member of the Boston Red Sox (thanks to a wager loss to my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants). For today’s profile, I’ll go with the closer…
#58 Jonathan Papelbon
One of the few Red Sox stars not actually on the Disabled List, Pap has been with the Sox since 2005 (becoming the closer in 2006). Originally, he was projected to be a starter, but a shoulder injury caused the Red Sox to re-think their strategy and as a result, Papelbon has become one of the AL’s premier closers.
He was born in Baton Rouge, LA on November 23, 1980. After a highly successful high school career in Jacksonville, FL, he went to Mississippi State where he was the team’s closer for three years. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2003 but did not sign in order to stay in college for one more year in a subsequently failed attempt to reach the College World Series. The next year, he was drafted by the Boston Red Sox.
Despite the relief appearances when he was called up in 2005, the team’s plan, as previously mentioned, was to put Papelbon into the rotation in 2006. The closer at the time, Keith Foulke, was unable to capture his pre-injury form, and Pap took over as the guy at the back end of the pitching staff.
Pap’s accomplishments include throwing the game-ending strikeout to win the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies. Since 2006, he has had at least 35 saves each season with a high of 41 in 2008. He has 170 saves for his career. In 301 games, he sports an ERA of 2.03 in 332 innings pitched with 376 strikeouts. He is the franchise leader in saves, and as hard as it is to believe, the first Red Sox closer to record two 30-save seasons.
He holds several records:
· Most consecutive scoreless innings to start a post-season career (26 innings).
· Most saves by a rookie closer (35 saves).
Papelbon has two younger twin brothers in baseball. Josh is in the Red Sox organization (AA Portland), while Jeremy is with the Cubs (AA Tennessee).
Hey Julia, how many more of these do I have to go? Geesh! 😉
The schedule makers have not been kind…
Following the Yankees victory over the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, they had to hop on a plane destined for Phoenix to play the Arizona Diamondbacks the next day. The jet lag showed in the Yankees’ dismal 10-4 loss. A.J. Burnett looked like he was pitching batting practice as he gave up 3 home runs in the first inning.
Marc Carig/The Star Ledger
Earlier this season, the starting pitching was stellar…except for Javier Vazquez. I read so many articles about how Javy just wasn’t suited for the American League and so many felt that he would not be able to rebound. But rebound he did as he has quietly become the Yankees’ most efficient starter. But as quickly as Javy has bounced back, A.J. Burnett has disappeared. Hopefully, Monday’s loss was truly the product of jet lag and not indicative of more serious problems. However, it is critical for A.J. to start pitching to his ability. Otherwise, the Yanks’ hold on first place will be brief.
Tuesday was a better barometer as the Yankees returned to the win column with a 9-3 decision over the D-Backs. Andy Pettitte did allow two hits to the opposing pitcher, Dan Haren, one of which was a two-out two-run game tying single in the second inning. Arizona would not score again against Pettitte, who went 7 innings to pick up the win. The game was actually much closer than the final score indicated. After Haren’s single, the Yankees quickly answered with a go-ahead run in the 3rd on a single by Alex Rodriguez. The game stayed 3-2 until the Yankees struck late with 6 runs in the 8th.
There is little question that Andy Pettitte will be on the All-Star Team. At 38, he is having perhaps his finest season. Phil Hughes should also make the team with 10 wins, although he is being skipped in the rotation this week as the Yankees look to limit his innings over the course of the season. As for who should start, that’s a tough question. Both Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox are certainly deserving, as is David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. Suffice it to say that I think the American League starter in the All-Star game will be an AL East starter! Seriously, AL manager Joe Girardi couldn’t go wrong with any of those choices. At least he doesn’t have to worry about A.J. Burnett being one of the options! L
Tonight, the Yankees will send Vazquez against Arizona’s Dontrelle Willis. They missed former teammate Ian Kennedy who pitched for the D-Backs on Sunday. Following tonight’s game, the Yankees will be heading to Los Angeles for a reunion series with Joe Torre and Don Mattingly over the weekend. Given the flight is less than an hour and Thursday is an off day, the Yankees won’t have jet lag available for an excuse come Friday night. The Yankees must simply do what the Boston Red Sox did…beat LA! Hey Julia, the slogan does work!
Sunday, I will get the chance to root against the Boston Red Sox in person as I’ll be at the game in San Francisco. Of course, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without making another wager with my good friend, Julia, of Julia’s Rants. For our latest wager, if the Red Sox beat the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, I will have to include a short paragraph about a Red Sox player with my next 25 blog posts following the game. 25 represents each player on the roster as of June 26, 2010 (regardless of whether the player is later traded, demoted or released before I mention them on the blog). The paragraphs can be short and simple, but they must be positive and include a personal note about the player that others might not be aware of. If the Giants win, then Julia has to do the same for my beloved New York Yankees. Based on the Yankees roster as of 6/26, she’ll have to include a paragraph about a Yankee player for her next 25 blog posts. So, on Sunday, I’ll be a huge Giants fan!
John G. Mabanglo/European Pressphoto Agency
On Tuesday, the Yankees were on top of the world
after defeating Doc Halladay and the Phillies…
Saed Hindash/The Star Ledger
Since then, all they have managed to do is to lose
the series to the Phillies and allow the New York Mets to win their 8th
game in a row. I am not quite sure how
you can from clubbing one of the best pitchers in baseball today to a total
inability to score runs. Good pitching
beat good hitting, I know. But still,
the Yankees have had their opportunities but the clutch hit just hasn’t come.
Hats off to Javier Vazquez’s performance on Friday
night despite the loss to the Mets. He
went 7 innings and only gave up 3 hits and 1 run. For the past month, he has been the team’s
most consistent pitcher. Too bad the
bats weren’t there to support him. I was
one of many who were booing Javy early in the season, but like they say, we
wouldn’t boo if we didn’t care. This is
the Javy that we had expected to see, and hopefully, this will be the Javy that
will take us to October.
Sipkin/NY Daily News
Last night’s bullpen was disappointing. Chan Ho Park and Boone Logan allowed the Mets
to increase their lead from 1-0 to 4-0.
The Yankees still had their chances which included bringing the tying
run to the plate in the bottom of the 9th. Granted, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher failed
to bring home any runs, but if the gap had been closer, it is possible that the
players would not have been trying so hard and could have made something
Despite the losses, the Yankees remain tied atop
the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays who have encountered their own rough
patch. The only team winning these days
is the Boston Red Sox who have crept to within one game of the lead (two in the
Today will be the battle of 9-1 pitchers as Phil
Hughes will face the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey.
Pelfrey is 1-0 in this match-up so far this season so hopefully Phil
will be able to exact revenge. It would
be great for him to reach 10 wins today.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
Another wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants, and yet
another win! We had bet on the NBA
Finals…Los Angeles Lakers versus Boston Celtics. My state against hers. Julia was so confident throughout the
series. She was sure the Celtics were
going to win the championship in six games.
She kept ranting that the Celtics would capture their 18th
NBA championship. She insisted that the
Lakers would not win and that Kobe Bryant would not be the MVP. Hey, Julia, how did that work out for
As a result of the loss, Julia is now obligated to
post photos of herself on her blog wearing the newest addition to her collection…a
Lakers championship locker room t-shirt.
The t-shirt was ordered through the Lakers website while the locker room
celebration was underway. I knew that
Julia would be very anxious to get her new shirt. She wouldn’t want to miss out on the
celebration of the LA Lakers as the 2010 NBA Champions! Enjoy Julia! I look forward to the Lakers post on your blog! 🙂
P.S. The Lakers now have 16 NBA Championships. Isn’t that just one less than the Celtics? Well, that’s what we have next year for! Go Lakers!
Not that we need further evidence, but the Yanks are clearly better at home…
Next to the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees have the word road record in the AL East. By salvaging the last game of the three game set with the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Yankees are 16-15. By comparison, the Tampa Bay Rays hold a road record of 22-8. The Yankees have the best home record in the division at 19-7 but they do need to figure out how to win on the road if they intend to be successful.
The Yankees had been playing great until their arrival in Canada. Friday night’s loss was abysmal as the Jays battered their former teammate, A.J. Burnett. Saturday, the problem wasn’t pitching as Andy Pettitte was great; it was the lack of hitting and scoring. Credit Jays’ pitching but they kept the Yankees off the board in extra innings before they prevailed in the bottom of the 14th inning, 3-2. Mark Teixeira had one of his worst games with 5 strikeouts.
Andrew Mills/The Star Ledger
The losses made Sunday’s game a “must-win” if there is such a thing in June. After losing ground to both the Jays and the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees needed to turn the tables. Early on, it was a stellar pitching duel between Toronto’s Brandon Marrow and New York’s Javier Vazquez.
Javy had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning. With two outs, he walked Adam Lind which brought Vernon Wells to the plate. Wells homered in what would be the only hit off the day off Vazquez for a 2-0 Jays lead.
Vazquez breezed through the bottom of the 7th inning with three up and three down. His day would be finished thanks to what would happen next. In the top of the 8th inning, the Yankees broke through for four runs and their first lead of the game.
Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner were both hit by pitches to start the innings (Cervelli by Morrow; and Gardner by Scott Downs). Derek Jeter made the Jays pay for their miscues with a run-scoring double. After Nick Swisher struck out, the Jays intentionally walked hitless Mark Teixeira (why?). With the bases now loaded, Gardner scored on a Jason Frasor wild pitch. After Alex Rodriguez struck out, Robinson Cano came up with the hit of the day when his single scored Jeter and Teixeira. The Yankees would need those extra runs as the Jays would close the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the frame when former Yank Jose Molina scored on a single by Fred Lewis. Joba Chamberlain, who had started the 8th in relief of Vazquez, needed help from Damaso Marte to get out of the inning but it was Mariano Rivera and “game over” in the 9th.
The Yankees now head to Baltimore for a series against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Since they last saw the O’s, the O’s have a new manager (Juan Samuel, replacing the fired Dave Trembley) and they are no longer mired in a long losing streak thanks to today’s 11th inning walk-off win against the Boston Red Sox.
Hopefully, the Yanks can shake their road doldrums and end the current road trip on a high note.
Following the trip to Baltimore, the Yankees will return home for the continuation of interleague play. They’ll see the Astros, Phillies and Mets before heading west for a trip down memory lane. On June 21st through 23rd, they’ll be in Phoenix to face the Arizona Diamondbacks. It is the scene of two of the worst baseball games I’ve ever personally attended, Games 2 and 6 of the 2001 World Series. Then, in the climax of interleague play, they’ll be in Chavez Ravine on June 25th through 27th to confront old friends Joe Torre and Don Mattingly, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It should be a thrilling month, but PLEASE, work on the road record!
It took a few times for the formula to work…
Finally, the pitching combination of Javier Vazquez-Joba Chamberlain-Mariano Rivera proved to be an effective…and winning…one in the Bronx as the Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1. It was a great performance by Vazquez who picked up his 4th win in 9 decisions. The defining moment came in the 7th inning when the O’s had the bases loaded with only one out. Vazquez struck out Adam Jones, and induced a Julio Lugo ground out to end the threat.
I did find it interesting when Yankees radio commentator Suzyn Waldman made the comment that Lugo wasn’t the player he was a few years ago when he was with the Boston Red Sox. If memory serves correctly, Julia of Julia’s Rants was simply saying that Lugo wasn’t a player let alone the player he was. At any rate, he proved his current ineffectiveness which is either a testament to the great start by Vazquez or his own ineptitude. I’d like to think it was the former. I’ve been down on Vazquez, but I am thrilled to see him have some success. Granted, as Julia was quick to point out, it’s only the Orioles, but still, you have to start somewhere. Hopefully, Javy is able to parlay this start and the few other good ones he’s had in the past month into something closer to his 2009 form with the Atlanta Braves.
Javy was the gracious beneficiary of an error by Miguel Tejada that led to two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning. With the game tied at 1 after Vazquez escaped the bases loaded jam, his night was most likely done as Joba Chamberlain was warming up in the bullpen during the bottom of the frame. So, the timely runs gave Javy the well deserved victory. He struck out 7 batters, while allowing only 4 hits. All-in-all, it was a great night for Vazquez.
Fresh off Saturday’s disaster against Cleveland (when he allowed the Cleveland Indians to overcome a 6-run deficit), Joba Chamberlain was perfect in the 8th inning with three up, three down. The final act, of course, was played by Mariano Rivera. He did allow a single, but the runner never advanced beyond first base, and Mo left with his 11th save of the season.
Injury-wise, it was, once again, a costly win for the Yanks. Despite Derek Jeter’s return after getting hit in the hamstring against Cleveland on Monday, Mark Teixeira left the game after three innings after he took a foul ball off his foot in the first inning. Hopefully, he’ll only a miss a game or less.
Curtis Granderson may not be able to hit lefties, but that didn’t stop him from hitting a homer off lefty Brian Matusz in the second inning. Very nice!
It was a good win by the Yankees, and they should be in good shape with Phil Hughes on the mound tomorrow against the O’s Brad Bergesen. Failure is not an option. At least not in the Yankees Universe! J
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox are winning, and the Yankees, um, not so much…
The proverbial “bump in the road” has occurred which derailed the great start to the season. Of course, the Yankees are just a winning streak away from corrective action. However, the recent days have not been fun.
Jeff Zelevansky/NY Post
After defeating the New York Mets on Friday night behind the brilliant, but injury-shortened, effort of Javier Vazquez, the Yankees and Phil Hughes lost on Saturday night, 5-3. Hughes has mirrored the team play…great start followed by recent lackluster performances.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Tonight, the Yankees trail the Mets 6-0 in the top of the 7th inning. There is still lots of time for the Yankees to rally. But this team is definitely missing the “spark” right now. I am not sure who’ll provide that spark, but perhaps the impending return of centerfielder Curtis Granderson will help. While I enjoy the energy and excitement that Francisco Cervelli provides, a starting lineup that includes Cervelli, Juan Miranda, and Randy Winn/Marcus Thames/Kevin Russo definitely does not stir memories of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Starting pitching, once a strength, is now suspect. There was a time when the only slug in the rotation was Vazquez, and now he’s the only shining star. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes have all left pitching lines that they just as soon forget. How quickly things have changed. I recognize that this mini-slump is temporary, but so far, the Rays have not showed they are susceptible to these types of slowdowns. Therefore, it is imperative for the Yankees to break out of this slump soon. Otherwise, they’ll soon find themselves looking at the backs of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Globe Staff
As much as I hate to do it, I have to give a tip of the cap to the Boston Red Sox. Not only did they beat the Philadelphia Phillies today with Tim Wakefield, they beat Roy Halladay. It was an impressive win by Julia‘s guys…
Well, the Fat Lady did sing today. The Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks in the NHL Western Conference Finals. Another disappointing finish for Joe Thornton and Company. Good luck to the Blackhawks as they move on to the Stanley Cup Finals to face either the Montreal Canadiens or the Philadelphia Flyers. I am left to wonder what could have been. But then again, that’s a frequent feeling when you are a fan of the Sharks and the Minnesota Vikings… L
It was a dream…
Yes, that’s it! Wednesday and Thursday did not happen. The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t come into the Bronx and spank for the Yankees for two days. They didn’t race to their 30th win of the season and show a superior starting rotation , did they?
Antonelli/NY Daily News
Maybe if I go back to bed, when I get up it will be Wednesday morning, the Yankees can re-do those two forgettable days. Seriously, the Rays didn’t just beat the Yanks, they stomped them. The final scores are deceiving (10-6 and 8-6) only because the Yankees made it close in the final inning of each game.
The games told me that the Rays need to do something about their bullpen, but otherwise, they are a complete team. Given the injury trouble the Yanks have encountered, it’s tough to compete with the Rays when you are playing at about 80% strength. That’s not an excuse though because the Yankees starting pitching was just, well, bad.
Kevin R. Wexler/The Record
Hopefully, the Yankees can re-group and play more competitive baseball the next time they face the Rays. This has been a tough stretch but it was bound to happen with the adversity the team has faced (injuries, playing every day, added pressure on schedule caused by rainout in Detroit and subsequent double-header, etc.).
In both games, the Yankees did try to launch 9th inning rallies, scoring 4 runs in the first game and 2 runs in the 2nd. It was not quite enough, but at least the team showed fight until the end.
Tonight, the Yankees were in Flushing Meadow to face the New York Mets at CitiField. After facing the Rays and Red Sox, it is probably a welcome relief to see the Mets who have struggled this year.
It was a great night for Javier Vazquez until a hand injury ended his night. With, by far, his best performance of the season (6 innings of one hit, no run ball and 6 strikeouts), Javy picked up his third win of the season. He was at home in a National League ballpark. The argument is that he is a better NL pitcher than AL, and on this night, he proved it. Hopefully, the hand injury is not serious, and this start catapults Vazquez back to respectability with Yankees fans. I know that he can pitch so much better than what he has regardless of the stadium location, so if he can right himself mentally, he’ll be okay and will provide the lift the rotation needs.
Kevin P. Coughlin/McClatchy
In addition to Javy, the star of the game was a name not many people know, Kevin Russo. The infielder was recently called up from the minors, and his double in the 7th inning scored Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli.
I was a bit concerned when Joe Girardi called on Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the 7th, but he did his job. Joba, who I blamed for the losses to the Twins on Sunday and Red Sox on Tuesday, was very effective. He went 1 2/3 innings and had three timely strike outs. Now, Mariano Rivera is a different story. He continues to struggle. The shut-out was lost when Jason Bay and Ike Davis hit back-to-back doubles. But he settled down to get David Wright on a ground out to end the game. The Yankees won, 2-1.
The night was further enhanced by Boston and Tampa losses. The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Red Sox, 5-1, while the Houston Astros defeated the Rays, 2-1.
Steven M. Falk/Philly.com
Speaking of the Red Sox, the Yankees have signed minor league utility player Jeff Natale who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005. The 27-year-old heads for Scranton/Wilkes Barre. It was also interesting to see three former Yankee relievers in the transactions column within the past day. Chad Gaudin was released by the Oakland A’s, who also outrighted Edwar Ramirez to AAA Sacramento, while the Washington Nationals placed Brian Bruney on waivers (which he has cleared). From World Series ring to what have you done for me lately…hopefully, the guys will re-surface in the bigs in the not-so-distant future.
Michael Stobe/US Presswire
It’s almost over for my San Jose Sharks. They lost tonight in overtime to fall down 3 games to none to the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Western Conference Finals. I think I hear the fat lady warming up her vocal cords… L
Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News
So, Brett Favre has told the Southern Mississippi baseball team that he’ll return to the Minnesota Vikings if they make the College World Series. Also, it was reported today that Brett had surgery on his left ankle and could be ready to play by training camp. I’ve suspected all along that he’ll be back. The team has been too nonchalant and these latest reports are signs that Brett intends to play. It still remains to be seen, but it is looking like we’ll see an encore performance by #4 in purple and gold. I am sure Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are thrilled…
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune
Hey Javy, nice job! J
Simmons/NY Daily News