Clearly a lack of zip on the fastball makes things worse, but Javier Vazquez said the same thing today that he said yesterday: It’s his location, not his velocity, that’s causing most of his problems. I don’t remember him sounding more frustrated.
“It’s my command right now,” he said. “Falling behind in the count. When that happens, you’re going to have bad games.”
The first Ichiro Suzuki home run was a 2-0 pitch. The Russell Branyon monster into the fourth deck was a 3-1 pitch. The second Ichiro home was a 1-0 changeup. When Vazquez allowed four straight batters to reach base in the third inning, the counts were 2-1, 1-1, 1-0 and 3-2 (after falling behind 3-1 on three straight balls).
“I feel better than I did at the beginning of the season,” Vazquez said. “I’m just not making good pitches, and I’m falling behind a lot.”
For now, the Yankees say Ivan Nova is joining the rotation to give all five starters an extended rest, but Thursday’s off day was going to do that anyway. Can’t help but wonder if Nova might also be coming up to limit Phil Hughes’ innings or to audition for Dustin Moseley’s role or to serve as an alternative to Vazquez.
The Yankees have said none of those things — and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think Moseley has done anything to lose his spot — but it’s easy to make that sort of speculation, especially after an outing like this.
“At times, (Vazquez’s) first couple of fastballs in an inning are slower than others,” Joe Girardi said. “It seems maybe it just takes him a little bit to get going. I’m sure part of it is just feeling like you’re going to make that pitch, and you have conviction in that pitch. But when he was winning games, he was throwing fastballs at those velocities the first pitch of an inning too. It’s just right now he’s a little off.”
• The championship belt went to Eduardo Nunez, but the start of the game was probably Chad Gaudin, who pitched two innings yesterday but was strong enough for three scoreless today. “It’s a gutsy performance by Chad,” Girardi said. “The big thing in these two days was he didn’t throw a lot of pitches yesterday, and he didn’t throw a lot of pitches today. He threw a lot of strikes. He was ahead in the count.”
• Good day for the bullpen as a whole, even with Mariano Rivera allowing a meaningless run in the ninth. Boone Logan had a scoreless inning, and Dave Robertson got the first two outs in the eight on strikeouts. Robertson hasn’t allowed a run in 19 straight appearances. “We, as a whole, are doing well,” Gaudin said. “We accept the responsibility and are accountable for what our spots are. That’s why we’ve been successful.”
• Girardi didn’t go into much detail about why he went to Rivera in the eighth or left him in for the ninth. “We talked about the situation and if we got in that certain situation, I was going to go to Mo,” he said. And that’s all he said about the decision.
• This was Rivera’s 25th save. He has reached that number in 14 straight years, passing Lee Smith for the most consecutive 25-save seasons since saves became an official stat in 1969. This was his first save of more than one inning this year.
• What changed about Alex Rodriguez’s status between pregame and postgame? “It was a discussion with (Brian Cashman),” Girardi said. “Alex was not here yet when I met with you (this morning). It was a discussion that Cash and I had. Cash talked to the doctors and trainers. We just all felt that it’s probably in the best interest to put him on the DL.”
• For now, there are no plans to call-up another third baseman. It’s Nunez and Ramiro Pena filling the hole. “Both of those guys have done a pretty good job filling in,” Girardi said.
• Mark Teixeira on realizing Rodriguez might be out longer than a few days: “When you take a few days off and it’s not better, then there’s something wrong there. Alex plays through a lot, so for him to not be able to play through this, we knew something was wrong.”
• Branyan became the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck at the current Yankee Stadium. He is also the only player to hit the glass of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field.
• The Yankees are 16-4 in games immediately following a shutout.
• Logan has retired 30 of the past 36 batters he faced. He has retired 23 of the past 25 lefties. This was his first win as a Yankee.
• Austin Kearns extended his hitting streak to 10 games, a season-high for him. This is his longest hitting streak since a 16-game streak in 2003.
• Casey Kotchman’s error in the eighth broke a streak of 274 errorless games at first base, an all-time major league record.
• Don’t forget you can always check out pictures in our online Yankees photo gallery, updated daily.
Associated Press photos of Vazquez, Nunez and Jeter