Before the largest crowd 41,382, in the short history of Citi Field, the Yankees edged the Mets by a score of 2-1 in the first game of the 2010 Subway Series on Friday night. The pitchers’ duel between starters Javier Vazquez and Hisanori Takahashi was a big surprise to most observers at the ballpark. The Mets starter was making in his first 2010 start after five relief appearances. Vazquez won in his most recent outing on May 17 after facing one batter in relief against the Red Sox. Vazquez was relegated to bullpen duty after making six starts.
Each pitched six successful innings without surrendering a run. Takahashi exceeded his expected pitch count of 85 by throwing 101 pitches, 73 for strikes. He gave up five hits and walked one batter. He faced threats in only the third and fourth innings. He walked Francisco Cervelli to open the third. Kevin Russo followed with a single to center, his first Major League hit. Vazquez sacrificed the baserunners to second and third, but the Japanese born hurler retired the next two batters, Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner. The Yanks threatened again in the following inning. With one out Alex Rodriguez beat out a single and moved to third on a double by Robinson Cano. Takahashi, as in the previous inning, retired two batters to end the rally without a score.
After the contest, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi commented about Takahashi, “You have to tip your hat to their pitcher. He made some good pitches when he had to.” Jerry Manuel said of his starter, “He pitched very well. He’s in the rotation.”
Vazquez was even more impressive on the mound than his opponent. He did not give up his first hit until 4.1 innings had passed. Angel Pagan singled to center in the fifth, but was erased in a double play on the next play. The only other baserunner was Alex Cora, who walked in the first and fourth innings. Cora, in the first, was the only runner to remain on base at the conclusion of an inning pitched by Vazquez. He was thrown out trying to steal in the fourth.
Vazquez ended his time on the mound unexpectedly. In the top of the seventh, in his attempt to deliver a sacrifice but Vazquez was bruised above the right index finger. He successfully sacrificed, but when removing his batting glove in the dugout noticed his finger was bleeding. Vazquez spoke about the rare accident, “I’m pretty embarrassed because I’ve been doing these things for a long time in the National League, and this never happened.” Vazquez has more than 600 plate appearances in the majors. He has bunted for sacrifices 96 times, including the two on Friday. Vazquez was confident that he will not miss time because of the injury, “I’m pretty sure I’ll make my next start.”
He spoke optimistically to reporters about his improved work on the mound, “I feel pretty good, but I’m still working on some things. I’m making more quality pitches out there, especially the fast ball.” Vazquez has only given up two earned runs in his latest two starts, a total of 13 innings pitched. Mets manager Manuel credited him for a job well done, “He kept us off balance. He executed pitches when he had to. Javy had good stuff, and when you have good stuff you can stop the batting.”
The outcome was decided in the Yankees seventh. Swisher led off the inning with a single to center. A potential double-play ball hit by Cervelli was thrown away by second baseman Alex Cora. Russo hit a double to right for his first extra-base hit and first runs batted in as Major League player.
Russo, a 25 year-old native of West Babylon, thrilled his brother, niece and all the Yankees fans in attendance with his clutch batting heroics. After the game, he recounted his emotions, “The first hit was great, my first major league hit. The second hit at the end, it turned out to be the bigger hit so they were both great. I was just trying to get a run in. I knew it was a sacrifice fly opportunity and luckily I got that hit. I was just trying to drive in one run and luckily I got two. I’m just glad I could contribute and help out the team.”