With all eyes on Alex Rodriguez’ pursuit of home run number 600, it was Curtis Granderson’s long ball that stole the show. Meanwhile, Jake Westbrook nailed his trade deadline audition by holding the Yankees to one run on two hits over seven innings before Granderson’s two-run blast in the eighth finally brought the curtain down.
While Westbrook was hoping to catch the eye of a contending team, Javier Vazquez was trying to further establish himself as a vital component of the Yankees’ rotation. Over the first two innings, the aggressive Indians hitters attacked Vazquez’ fastball, but could only plate one run on Travis Hafner’s second inning long ball. After giving up the blast, Vazquez seemed to switch gears and rely more on his curveball and change, an adjustment that helped him retire the next nine batters in a row with relative ease. The Indians finally got to Vazquez for another run in the sixth inning when Shin-Shoo Choo’s two-out double scored Michael Brantley, but he rebounded to strikeout the rookie Carlos Santana. Then, in the seventh, the Indians rallied again, but came up short when Vazquez’ induced a ground ball from Jason Donald with runners on first and second.
Westbrook had a much easier time dealing with the Yankees’ lineup, retiring the first 10 batters of the game before surrendering a game tying homerun to Nick Swisher in the fourth inning. The next batter in the inning, Mark Teixeira, then drew a walk, but was doubled off when Alex Rodriguez’ fly ball to left was ruled a catch despite appearing to be a trap. Westbrook got some more help from second base umpire Dale Scott in the fifth when he called Granderson out at second on a ball that just missed going over the right field wall. Choo’s laser throw beat Granderson to the bag, but the replay once again showed that Scott’s ruling was incorrect. Westbrook took advantage of his good fortune by retiring the next seven batters, but his luck finally ran out in the eighth when Jorge Posada singled ahead of Granderson’s game winning drive, which this time made it over the wall with plenty of room to spare.
Despite throwing 20 pitches in the sixth and seventh, Girardi entrusted Vazquez with the eighth inning, but quickly summoned David Robertson after a lead off walk to the speedy Michael Brantley. The decision was particularly notable because Joba Chamberlain was nowhere to be seen in the bullpen. Before the game, Girardi hinted that he might shy go to Robertson in a key spot late in the game, and sure enough that’s exactly what he did. After Robertson promptly rewarded his manager’s faith with a double play ball, Girardi then called on Boone Logan, who whiffed Choo to end the inning.
With the bridge to Mariano Rivera safely navigated, Girardi’s next decision was a no brainer as the Yankee manager called on his trusted closer, who recorded his first save since July 8. Rivera’s remarkable dependability has helped to mollify the Yankees’ bullpen woes, but the absence of a consistent late inning counterpart has remained the team’s greatest weakness. Unless Brian Cashman is able to acquire a reliever in a deadline deal, tonight’s game could be a preview of how Girardi will handle the bullpen for the rest of the season.
Javier Vazquez’ Pitch Breakdown
|Avg. Speed||Max Speed||Count||Strikes||Percentage|
|Four Seam Fastball||89.2||91.6||38||21||55.3%|
|Two Seam Fastball||89.2||90.6||13||8||61.5%|
- Nick Swisher’s scored the 500th run of his career when he homered in the fourth inning.
- Robinson Cano’s received his 11th intentional walk in the ninth inning, a record for Yankees second basemen.
- Mark Teixeira’s fourth inning walk extended his streak of reaching base to 42, the most by a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez reached base in 53 straight games during the 2004 season.