Javier Vazquez came into tonight's game having lost two of his previous three starts, but in both losses, the Yankees were shut out.
He didn't get an offensie eruption, but on a night in which he allowed just one run in seven innings, and was aided by some outstanding defense, three runs was enough.
“I thought he threw the ball extremely well,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought he mixed his pitches, had a good fastball tonight and he located. He gave us distance. He was really good.”
Vazquez said he labored at times but settled in the later innings, retiring the final nine he faced.
"When the game's 2-1, you know that one pitch can be the game and they take the lead," said Vazquez, who didn't see the lead grow to 3-1 until Mark Teixeira's homer in the sixth. "So you still want to be aggressive but at the same time I know one pitch can beat me so that's why I try to be careful."
After walking Mark Ellis to lead off the fifth, Vazquez retired the last nine hitters he faced, though he was quick to credit his defense for that.
In the sixth, Rodriguez saved what would have been a hit off the bat of Kurt Suzuki with a diving stop and throw across the diamond. In the seventh, Granderson ran full speed in from center on Gross’ blooper, saving a hit with a sliding catch. Ellis hit Vazquez’s 110th and final pitch to right, a dying liner that Curtis dived for and caught.
“That [the defense] was unbelievable, the seventh inning especially,” Vazquez said. “Those were great catches. Those were huge, could have been two men on base right there. Alex made that play out there. We played great defense.”
*** Girardi didn't rule out a return to the lineup tomorrow night by Jorge Posada, who left Sunday's game after taking a foul ball off his left ring finger. While the safe bet is Francisco Cervelli getting the nod again, Posada said of the finger: "It felt better today than I thought it would."
*** There was more Dallas Braden silliness with the pitcher's pregame comments about T-shirts sold by the marketing department necessitating a statement by the team that was distributed mid-game.
Girardi and Alex Rodriguez had no issues with the “Get Off My Mound” shirts — A-Rod laughed when Robinson Cano sported one before the game and joked he wanted a share of the proceeds-- Braden wasn't as amused, saying, among other things, that the shirts demonstrated a “lack of tact.”
That forced the A’s to come up with a statement.
“We regret that Dallas has expressed concern in regards to the ‘Get Off My Mound’ T-shirts that are being sold throughout the stadium,” the statement read. “The organization created these shirts in response to numerous fan requests and made them to generate interest in this series. The shirts represent the competitive nature of the team, which Dallas epitomizes, and were intended as a fun way to engage the fans. We will speak privately with Dallas about this to clarify our position and make sure we have a clear line of communications going forward.’’
Braden is right on one issue: the fact he and his teammates apparently didn't want the shirts made and the club in essence went around the players union in making them, reflects poorly on the A's. But Braden can't go on Bay Area TV after the April incident as he did to further fan the flames, spin that into an appearance on Letterman and then HBO Real Sports and then suddenly declare that somehow a T-shirt crossed some kind of line of tact. That's a tad disingenuous.