Despite the reaction of fans with long memories, Javier Vazquez wasn't awful in his 2010 home debut Wednesday.
But he was far from good, outpitched by Joel Piñeiro in the Yankees' 5-3 loss to the Angels that snapped a three-game winning streak. Vazquez heard about it from the Stadium crowd when he left the mound.
Vazquez, who gave up four runs and six hits, was booed when Alfredo Aceves replaced him with one out in the sixth.
"It was a little disappointing for my first game back," Vazquez said. "I don't think they're forgetting '04, but hopefully I'll get some W's in the Stadium and hopefully they'll forget that."
When he was introduced while warming up in the bullpen, Vazquez received the kind of indifferent applause that accompanies a tap-in par at a golf tournament. That suggested his horrid relief effort in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS wasn't going to be forgiven or forgotten soon.
Pressed, Vazquez (0-2, 9.82 ERA) said he thought the treatment was somewhat unwarranted.
"I feel like it's unfair because that was so long ago," he said. "But I'm trying, like I said plenty of times , I'm trying to concentrate on this year."
How can he put 2004 out of fans' minds?
"Just win games," he said.
Derek Jeter, memorably booed in April 2004 during an 0-for-32 slump and fluent in never saying the wrong thing publicly, managed to defend his teammate and the fans.
"I don't get caught up in the fans too much," said Jeter, who went 2-for-4. "The bottom line is they're Yankee fans, they want to cheer for you. They come here to cheer for you. Everyone has been booed at some point, but you can't let it affect you. Like I said, if Javy gives up [four] runs every time he pitches, I think he's going to have a pretty good year."
"As soon as he can get a win here, I think it will be best for all of us," Girardi said. "Fans, they remember . . . It would be nice to get him a win and on a roll. You know, today we didn't score a lot of runs. He could have won that game as well if we could have scored some runs, but we didn't score a lot of runs. But Javy is an accomplished guy. He'll get going."
The pitcher who got going Wednesday was Piñeiro (1-1, 2.77), in whom the Mets were interested during the offseason but failed to land. He shut down the Yankees for seven innings using a sinker that hitters said was much nastier than it was in 2007, the last time he was in the American League.
Piñeiro gave up one run and five hits, striking out seven and walking none. He left with a 5-1 lead that was trimmed to 5-3 in the eighth as the Yankees scored twice off Scot Shields. With closer Brian Fuentes hurt, Fernando Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save.
"This was just one of those games where he was better than us," Jeter said of Piñeiro.
"Sometimes that happens," Nick Swisher said. "We went up against a great pitcher today and he had our number."