Thanks to some stellar pitching by Javier Vazquez, and a pretty lucky four-run eighth, the Yankees were able to get out Toronto with a win. Vazquez was outstanding, holding the Jays to just one hit, walked four, and struck out nine in seven innings. Things may be turning around for Vazquez, who has now put up an ERA of 2.77 over his last five starts.
After throwing 5.2 no-hit innings, Vazquez walked Adam Lind with two out in the sixth, then Vernon Wells hammered a Vazquez slider into the seats in left for a two-run homer. It was his only mistake on the day, and for a while it looks like it would cost him a victory.
That's because for a third day in a row the Yankees lineup couldn't do a damn thing. Jays starter Brandon Marrow came into this start with a 6.00 ERA, but that didn't stop him from holding the Yankees to just one run on four hits and a walk over seven innings.
Eventually the Yankees would put together a big inning in the eighth to take the lead, but a lot of their success was due to a few gifts handed out by the Jays. Marrow started the inning by hitting Francisco Cervelli with a pitch on a 1-2 count. Then, after Scott Downs came in to replace Marrow, Brett Gardner got plunked to put two on with nobody out. Over the course of this series, this has usually been the time when a Yankee batter would strikeout or bang into a doubleplay, but Derek Jeter put an end to that and lineup a double down the right field line to cut the Jays lead to 2-1. Downs would then leave the game and be replaced by Jason Frasor.
Nick Swisher was up next and after falling behind 1-2 he clearly checked his swing on a changeup from Frasor, but homeplate umpire Bruce Drekman took called him out anyway, and didn't even bother to check with the third base ump. This was just one of many missed calls by Drekman on the day and Joe Girardi had seen enough. He raced out of the dugout and let the ump have it before and after quickly being ejected from the game.
After the ejection the Jays decided to walk Mark Teixeira to load the bases for Alex Rodriguez. Frasor then gave the Yankees another gift when he uncorked a wild pitch to allow the tying run to score. However, the move that has burned managers five times in a row finally paid off and A-Rod eventually struck out for the second out of the inning.
This brought up Robinson Cano with an open base at first and I still can't figure out why Cito Gaston didn't walk him, but I'm glad he didn't. That's because on the second pitch of the at-bat Cano lined a single into left to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. It was one of three hits on the day for Robbie, who raised his average back up to .363.
It was now up to the bullpen and Joba Chamberlain got the call for the eighth. It didn't look too promising at first, because Jose Molina led off the inning with a double into the right-centerfield gap, and then score on a Fred Lewis RBI single. After just four pitches the Jays had cut the Yankees lead to one, had the tying run on first, and it was looking like one of those disaster innings for Joba. Aaron Hill then hit a rocket, but it was on the ground and right Cano, and the Yanks were able to turn a big 4-6-3 doubleplay.
After a bit of confusion about which pitcher the Yankees were going with, Damaso Marte came out of the pen to face the left-handed Adam Lind. After a first pitch fastball for strike one, Marte went after Lind with three straight sliders to put him away swinging.
The Yankees went down quietly in the top of the ninth and now it was Mariano Rivera time. Mo made quick work of the Jays in the ninth, retiring them in order on just five pitches.
This series could have easily been a disaster, so all the credit for this win goes out to Javier Vazquez and the way he pitched today. He came up huge for this team when they really needed him to, and for a guy that had to deal with many doubters (including myself) this is a big step n the right direction.
Tomorrow is an off-day before the Yankees start a three-game series with the O's in Baltimore on Tuesday. Phil Hughes will face Kevin Millwood in the opener. Game time is 7:05 p.m., and the game will be on MY9