What started as a referendum on Javier Vazquez ended with even more questions about the curious managing of Joe Girardi. Despite a stirring sixth inning comeback, Javy’s poor pitching and Girardi’s managerial blunders were eventually too much for the Yankees overcome.
After retiring the first two batters of the game, Vazquez surrendered a HR to long-time nemesis Andruw Jones. The long ball was Jones’ sixth career blast against the Yankees righty (a seventh would be forthcoming). As has been a pattern with Vazquez, Javy allowed the blast to force him out of the strike zone. He walked the next batter on four pitches and then in the second essentially loaded the bases because of his unwillingness to challenge the White Sox hitters. Vazquez was able to wiggle out of that jam with only one run, but in the third Jones belted his second HR of the game. The Yankees tried to scratch back with one run in the third, but Vazquez gave that back and more in the fourth when he surrendered a two run HR to Mark Kotsay. Vazquez wouldn’t retire another batter in the inning, but was spared further damage by Sergio Mitre’s fine relief appearance.
Despite the gloom surrounding another miserable effort by Vazquez, the Yankees rallied for a run in the fifth and four in the sixth. The uprising in the sixth was capped off by a two run HR by Nick Swisher, his first of the season at Yankee Stadium. During the rally, the Yankees did get a bad break when Curtis Granderson was forced to leave the game with a groin pull. Granderson left the Stadium to undergo an MRI, so a DL stint is most likely on the horizon.
Despite all of the frustration from Vazquez’ awful performance and Granderson’s injury, the Yankees still had a 6-5 lead. At that point, however, Girardi started the wheels of over management that eventually doomed the game. Just as he did on Tuesday in Baltimore, Girardi lifted an effective pitcher to go with the struggling duo of Dave Robertson and Damaso Marte. Even worse, he had Robertson intentionally walk the go-ahead runner to set up a Marte versus Pierzynski matchup. So, not only did Girardi fall into the same left-on-left trap, but this time he actually created it. Pierzynski’s two-run double ensured that Girardi paid the price for his folly.
After Girardi’s bullpen bumbling, the bats seemed deflated by the accumulation of the day’s events. Not satisfied with the damage he had inflicted on the game, Girardi added a few more head scratchers with the Yankees on offense. In the seventh inning, with a runner on first and two outs, Girardi opted to let Marcus Thames face a righty instead of pinch hitting with Nick Johnson. Then, in the bottom of the 8th, Girardi pinch hit Johnson for Winn, a switch hitter, which caused the Yankees to not only have the weak fielding Thames in LF, but also lose the DH in the process. Finally, after Arod single in the 9th, he used Pena as a pinch runner, basically leaving the Yankees without a bench.
Still, the Yankees wound up with Robinson Cano as the winning run at the end of the game. Not even Robbie’s early season magic could overcome the pall that had been cast over this game, however, as Cano meekly grounded back to the mound to end the game.