We really wanted to believe that skipping Javier Vazquez in the rotation a couple of weeks ago would both clear his head and improve his velocity. We really wanted to believe that he’d return a better pitcher, be it because of a change in his mechanics, or simply out of embarrassment. His last three outings had been so encouraging: a tough-luck loss in a solid outing in Detroit, a third of an inning in relief against Boston that earned him a win, and his best start of the year a week ago today at Citi Field. (Do you realize he’s the last starter to beat the Mets? The universe makes no sense.) Then, last night, he regressed. It seems returning to his 2009 form will take more than a snap of the fingers.
His ugly line: five runs on eight hits over five and two-thirds innings, three walks, and just two strikeouts. And if not for Mark Teixeira’s glove, it could have been even uglier. The bullpen wasn’t much better — um, welcome back, Chad Gaudin — and though the Yankees finally got their first hit of the series with runners in scoring position when Robinson Cano singled in a run in the fourth, they didn’t generate nearly enough offense off Nick Blackburn in the 8–2 loss.
Still, taking two out of three from a division leader for the second time in two weeks isn’t bad (even if that .667 clip is well below their winning percentage over the Twins during the Ron Gardenhire era). Next up for the Yankees are lots of bad teams: Four of their next five series are against teams currently in last place. And Curtis Granderson returns tonight, which is good news for the Yankees, and bad news for either Randy Winn (who could be designated for assignment) or Kevin Russo (who could be sent down to AAA to play the outfield on a regular basis).