My yesterday was a blur.
I was in the middle of running to chase down my secretary (please, don't ask) around 8:00 last night, when I get a voicemail from my Brother, T.
"If you're not watching the Yankee game, don't. [Inaudible] Vazquez [inaudible]."
Luckily, I was nowhere near a TV set, because those inaudibles would have forced me to turn on the TV. It's like when you tell someone "Don't look behind you". The first thing they do is look over their shoulder, to see what they shouldn't be looking at. It's human nature.
Fortune was then to supply me a sizeable source of booze, and made me forget I hadn't really eaten anything that day (I'd actually ordered and started eating lunch, but was called away before I could get halfway through).End result? A nasty hangover and a sense of melancholy.
I'm not blaming Javy Vazquez for this mind you (well, maybe the melancholy) -- at this point, all I had was Brother T's cryptic and sometimes inaudible warning. At one point during my drinking binge a Red Sox fan comes up to me and says "You know, I don't actually hate the Yankees. They're a better team than this." I still hadn't seen or heard the score.
So it was only when I got home that I heard that the Yankee loss was historic. Then, in the "remember, alcohol is actually a sleep suppressant" stage of my evening, I caught some of the infamous game on replay. Ugh.
There was a moment in the fifth inning, that I think summed up the situation perfectly. Travis Hafner hit a groundball foul. CJ Nitkowski runs after it, but is blocked by Hafner running up the line. Nitkowski then got to helplessly watch as the ball spun fair, hugging the grass just inside the foul line. Base hit.
Sometimes, stuff like this is going to happen.But you can't just dismiss this loss as an inconsequential anomaly.
Here's Javy Vazquez, pre and post All Star break, before yesterday's game:
Pre: 10-5, 3.57 ERA, 118 2/3 IP, 105 H, 32 BB, 95 Ks
Post: 3-2, 6.39 ERA, 43 2/3 IP, 48 H, 10 BB, 25 Ks
I left out yesterday's outing so it couldn't be said that one bad outing was skewing the results. He's almost doubled his ERA, and he's lost 2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched since the All Star game. Those are bad signs.
This is the anchor of the Yankee rotation, and he's looking rusted through right now. It's been masked by El Duque's performance, Loaiza's badness, and before that, Contreras's inconsistency. It would matter less if Kevin Brown or Mike Mussina were pitching like a top starter, but it's been a while since we've seen anything from those guys, either. But this Yankee rotation is completely disfunctional, and I don't see any cure for it.
I'm not panicking, or throwing in the towel (the Sox fans that threw in the towel in July are now trying to fish it back out of the ring in August), but suddenly the race to the postseason has gotten real interesting. It might be the fates toying with the Red Sox again, but they're 3 1/2 games back with just a little more than a month left to play.