The unhappy saga of Yankee hurler Javier Vazquez’s 2010 season continued on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. In an attempt to win his first game at home this season, Vazquez hurled only three innings plus four batters, his shortest outing of the season. Eleven of the 19 batters faced by Vazquez reached base successfully. He surrendered seven hits and walked four batters, which led to five runs. Vazquez was booed unmercifully by the large crowd of 45,265.
The jeers of the crowd and the ineffective pitching have been a part of each of the veteran’s starts at Yankee Stadium this year. Two of the runs on Saturday came on homers by slugger Andruw Jones. The solo shots by Jones in the first and third innings were the third game this season during which the veteran slugger hit more than one home run. It was his 40th multi-homer game in his lengthy career in the majors. Home runs are not a stranger to Vazquez. He has given up eight of the 19 surrendered by the New York staff. The other four Yankees starters, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, have given up a combined total of only five home runs. Those unimpressive numbers are on pace to surpass the 33 round trippers he yielded in 2004 with the Yankees. Vazquez’s other stats are also disappointing to Yankees fans. In 23 innings pitched in his five starts, the righty gave up 32 hits and 25 runs. His ERA is currently at 9.78.
The reasons for the lack of success of the veteran hurler, now in his 13th Major league season, are not easy to discern. After Saturday’s contest, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told reporters, “He struggled again. It’s a difficult part of the game. A lot of it (99.9 %) is miss-location, which is mechanical.” Of the mental part caused by pressing, Girardi commented, “Players can sometimes make a slump longer than it should be.” Of the fans growing disenchantment with the performances of the Puerto Rican native, Girardi said, “If you pitch the way you are capable of, anyone can turn it [Fan’s support] around.”
When the outspoken manager of the Chicago White Sox, Ozzie Guillen, was asked his opinion of Vazquez’s lack of success in 2010, he responded, “He’s throwing balls, not strikes. You can’t do that, especially in the American League. They don’t let you get away with mistakes in this league.”
As soon as the game concluded, reporters surrounded Vazquez in the spacious Yankees clubhouse to obtain his opinions of his latest mound performance, “I’m working on everything. I feel good. I’m just not getting it done when it counts. I might be trying too hard because I want to be good. It’s not easy when you’re struggling out there. You have to keep your head up, but it’s not easy.”
Vazquez said he understood the booing of the fans of the team, “When you’re not doing good, they’re going to boo you.” Vazquez was also questioned about having to change his glove in the fourth inning because it was considered to be illegal as it was two-toned. “I’ve used that glove for years. It caught me off-guard, but that’s not the responsible for what happened out there. I just changed my glove and went out there.”
Vazquez has been the winner of 143 Major League contests. How his performances can be improved this season is not clear. How long management of the team will continue to allow Vazquez to start games without a big improvement in his performances is yet to be determined. Five relief pitchers were used to follow Vazquez in Saturday. The overuse of the relief corps forced management to recall pitcher Mark Melancon on Saturday night to replace outfielder Curtis Granderson on the roster.
The sad saga of Vazquez still continues. On Monday the Yankees decided to skip Vazquez in the rotation and bypassed him in the upcoming Red Sox series up in Boston this weekend. Under the normal movement of the starting rotation, the next start for Vazquez would have been scheduled on Thursday an off-day.