Javier Vazquez seemed to realize the weight of tonight’s game. He knew what it meant for the team, and he knew what it meant for himself. Tonight was a chance for the Yankees to take the lead in the American League East, and it was a chance for Vazquez to make one last case for the postseason roster.
Vazquez accomplished neither.
“Obviously today didn’t help,” he said. “I thought today was an important day for me personally, but it didn’t go well.”
The Yankees need some help if they’re going to win the division, but as Derek Jeter said, all the help in the world does no good if the Yankees don’t win their games. Vazquez didn’t give them much of a chance to win tonight. Spot-starting so that Andy Pettitte could be lined up for the playoffs, Vazquez allowed seven runs on 10 hits, three of them home runs.
“If I would have thrown the ball better, that would have helped my case. That’s not the case tonight,” he said. “I just got hit. I had nothing. I didn’t feel like my pitches were sharp at all today. They just hit me good.”
And that’s not good for Vazquez. The Yankees have room for at least one long man in their postseason bullpen, and they have a long line of candidates. Dustin Moseley pitched well two nights ago, Sergio Mitre pitched a hitless inning tonight, Ivan Nova has been the team’s No. 5 starter, and Chad Gaudin has clearly won some of Girardi’s trust in the past month.
Then there’s Vazquez, who has struggled since the all-star break.
“I wish I knew the answer because I felt great those couple of months that I pitched well,” he said. “I just didn’t get it done late. I wish I knew.”
• Girardi said he will try to give Vazquez an inning of relief on Sunday. As you would expect, Girardi said he has not ruled out carrying Vazquez in the postseason.
• The Yankees haven’t always rallied to win, but they’ve regularly come back to get themselves into ball games. Tonight they did that with their three-run sixth, which ended on Nick Swisher’s bases-loaded double play. “You feel like you’re going to get right back in the game,” Girardi said. “Swish hit it right on the barrel of the bat, he just hit it right to the second baseman.”
• Alex Rodriguez has reached 30 home runs, which seemed impossible not so long ago. No. 30 came off Brett Cecil to start that sixth inning. Rodriguez has 13 consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons, which is the longest such streak of all time.
• Rodriguez has a total of 14 30-and-100 seasons, which ties Barry Bonds for the most all-time.
• Marcus Thames went 1-for-4 tonight and in 11 games against Toronto this season, he hit .441 with three home runs and seven RBI.
• Jazquez has now gone without a strikeout in two of his past three outings. Before that, he had a strikeout in 349 consecutive games.
• Three more hits from Francisco Cervelli who seems to have rediscovered some of that early season magic.
• Two more hits from Derek Jeter who’s hitting .316 in his past 18 games.
• If Greg Golson is trying to make an impression to make the postseason roster, I’m sure an RBI single didn’t hurt his chances. Ultimately, though, he didn’t have many chances to show of his arm or his speed, and those are his best assets in the playoffs.
Associated Press photos of Vazquez and Jeter