Vazquez sharp at home as Yanks top lowly Orioles
Javier Vazquez said he couldn't remember the last time he started a game at Yankee Stadium. For the record, it was May 1.
It's not by chance that Vazquez hadn't stepped on his home mound in a month other than for a brief May 17 relief appearance. The Yankees have tinkered with Vazquez's starting schedule since that May 1 outing, when he was hammered for five runs in three innings by the White Sox, then further hammered by the Yankee Stadium crowd.
Whether by design or happenstance, Vazquez has been shielded from the home fans as he tried to work out his early-season woes. Two good outings in his last three gave the Yankees hope he had turned it around, but seeing him do it at home might have been the final step to restoring the team's confidence in a key offseason pickup.
Vazquez pitched seven solid innings last night and was credited with the win when the Yankees scored two unearned runs for a 3-1 victory over the Orioles.
Miguel Tejada's throwing error on Alex Rodriguez's two-out grounder in the seventh inning of a tie game allowed two runs to score. Vazquez (4-5) was not coming back out for the eighth regardless of the outcome of A-Rod's at-bat.
"Obviously, I want to pitch good here," Vazquez said. "Everybody knows that and I'm working on that. It feels great to play a good game here. Whoever, it was important to just go out there and throw a good game here."
Vazquez rebounded from his last outing, when he allowed five runs in 52/3 innings in a loss to the Twins. This time, he gave up one run and four hits with one intentional walk and seven strikeouts. His ERA, which was 9.78 after the May 1 start, is down to 6.06.
"He was great," manager Joe Girardi said. "He attacked the zone all night. I thought he used his fastball very effectively. He got into a little jam in the seventh and was able to pitch out of it. He was outstanding. It's kind of what we thought we were going to get from him.''
The jam Girardi referred to was second and third and one out with the score tied at 1. With Damaso Marte and David Robertson warming, Girardi had Vazquez intentionally walk Matt Wieters to load the bases. Vazquez then struck out Adam Jones and got Julio Lugo on a hard grounder to Derek Jeter.
"I wanted to stay," Vazquez said. "I'm glad Joe let me finish that inning."
In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees had runners on second and third with two outs when Orioles manager Dave Trembley brought in righthander David Hernandez to face Rodriguez.
A-Rod hit a first-pitch grounder to Tejada, the former shortstop now playing third for the Orioles. Tejada threw a one-hopper to former Met Ty Wigginton, who could not handle it as both runners scored.
Joba Chamberlain pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Mariano Rivera overcame a two-out single in the ninth for his 11th save as the Yankees won their third in a row and improved to 6-1 against the Orioles. They are 4-1 in their stretch of 13 of 16 games against three of baseball's worst teams, with Baltimore being the worst of the worst.