Calendar flip unkind to Yankees
Vazquez's struggles continue, Granderson injured in loss
NEW YORK -- April was an enchanted month for the Yankees, who began a seamless defense of their World Series title.
May, through one day, has been a disaster.
Fresh off a calendar flip, Javier Vazquez continued to struggle mightily on Saturday, Curtis Granderson went down with a seemingly serious injury and the Yankees -- despite a comeback in the middle innings -- lost a 7-6 game to the White Sox. They have seen better days.
"It's tough," Vazquez said of his struggles. "I can't hide that. But I promise everybody I'm going to keep working hard at it and battle through it."
Hoping for a fresh start in May, Vazquez instead submitted the same stale line: three-plus innings, five runs, four walks and three home runs. Andruw Jones took him deep twice in the first three innings, sending the Yankees reeling to a 5-1 deficit.
"It's a tough game," said first baseman Mark Teixeira, who had two hits Saturday after recording 11 all last month. "We all go through struggles. I don't know one player in the history of baseball that hasn't gone through struggles. The question is how do you respond?"
"We've got to stay positive with him," catcher Jorge Posada said. "We all know what he's capable of doing."
To reverse course, though, Vazquez will require another chance -- a tricky proposition, considering his next start is scheduled for Friday in Boston. Rather than have him pitch at Fenway Park, the Yankees could easily choose to skip Vazquez's turn in the rotation.
But Saturday, dealing with the aftermath of a disheartening loss and an injury to Granderson, manager Joe Girardi was unwilling to discuss that possibility.
"That's not a concern of mine right now," Girardi said. "My thought process is how we get through [Sunday] first. There's no doubt about it, he's scuffling. And we've got to find a way to get him back on track."
From Girardi's vantage point, Vazquez's struggles are mechanical, resulting in missed locations on all of his pitches. That would explain the four walks -- not to mention the three home runs.
"Mechanics are a tricky thing," Girardi said. "You have to be very consistent to throw the ball where you want to. There are so many little things that can go wrong."
In spite of Vazquez, and thanks to Sergio Mitre's three shutout innings of relief, the Yankees still managed to take a late lead when Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer off Scott Linebrink in the sixth. But in the top of the seventh, Paul Konerko doubled off David Robertson with one out.
With two outs, Robertson then fell behind Carlos Quentin, 2-0. Rather than continue to attack Quentin, the Yankees opted to walk him and have Damaso Marte face the left-handed A.J. Pierzynski.
Pierzynski promptly hit a two-run double into the left-field corner, giving the White Sox their final margin of victory.
Worse, the Yankees lost a key member of their lineup when Granderson pulled up lame, attempting to go from first to third on Brett Gardner's RBI single in the sixth. Taken to a local hospital for an MRI, Granderson may hit the disabled list on Sunday.
That was the injury. The insult? Vazquez, walking off the mound to a familiar chorus of boos.
"When you're not doing good, they're going to boo you," Vazquez said. "I really have to turn it around, and hopefully the boos will turn to cheers."
Hopefully, but perhaps not anytime soon. In five starts and 23 innings this season, Vazquez has allowed 25 runs, 32 hits and 15 walks. Though he is 1-3, his record could easily be worse. And everyone seems to have their own take on his woes.
"A lot of balls," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who had well-documented issues with Vazquez during their time together in Chicago. "He didn't throw strikes. [If] you don't throw strikes, you are going to pay, especially in the American League."
Guillen swore he was not involved in a third-inning incident in which umpires asked Vazquez to trade in his two-toned glove for a solid-colored one. According to Girardi, umpires had discussed the issue in Spring Training, though they chose to act upon it only now.
"That's the glove I've used for like three years now," Vazquez said. "It caught me off guard, but it had nothing to do with what I did out there."
What he did was struggle and put his future in doubt. Though the Yankees have more than enough depth to weather the misfortunes of Vazquez and the injury to Granderson, they would prefer to solve those issues now.
But what can they do? Granderson can rehab. Vazquez can work. And the Yankees can hope that the blissful vibes of April will find them once again.
"He's going to be just fine," Swisher said of Vazquez. "Everyone in here's got his back. We know he's going to be a horse for us down the stretch. He's just running into a rough patch right now. It happens to everybody."
Or, in the words of Girardi: "You always have the ability to rewrite the script."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.