Remember all that talk about sleeping giants? Well, good morning sirs. The Yankees have won six…
Vazquez Flying High in Bronx
There's no great secret, Vazquez says. It's just a matter of not taking all of these New York distractions – the raucous crowds shaking the building, the hordes of media clogging the clubhouse arteries at all hours, the tempting and incessant nightlife of the Big Apple – too seriously.
"Baseball is fun. It's a kid's game," Vazquez said.
That simplistic approach is paying dividends, not only for a 27-year-old righthander who figures to get his first serious taste of a September pennant race, but also for the Yankees.
The face of New York's pitching staff has shuffled dramatically since this point last season, but with continued performances like Friday's, Vazquez will heal Yankees fans' broken hearts over Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells in a hurry.
Vazquez steamed through a mostly unfamiliar Kansas City lineup – Desi Relaford and Benito Santiago were the only recognizable batters to Vazquez, a career National Leaguer before this season – and took a perfect game into the fifth inning until Ken Harvey reached the righthander for a solo homer.
After fans in the left-field stands tossed Harvey's round-tripper back onto the field, Vazquez settled right back into form, stingily holding the Royals to just one more hit – Mike Sweeney's double leading off the seventh – until turning the game ball over to Mariano Rivera in the ninth.
Vazquez needed just 91 pitches to coast through eight mostly undramatic innings, making it look easy on a calm, pleasant evening at the Stadium.
"I can't say it was a surprise to me," manager Joe Torre said. "He tends to his business and he certainly was sharp. He doesn't seem to be bothered by anything."
"He understands what it's all about," added catcher Jorge Posada. "In Montreal he was the guy who everyone talked to. It's kind of neat here (for Vazquez) to be under the radar a little bit.
Whereas pitchers like the beleaguered poster boy for Bronx failure, Weaver, have shied away from interacting in the clubhouse camaraderie, Vazquez has assimilated. Perhaps it's his humble, unassuming nature, or the professional coolness with which he goes about his day-to-day business.
Regardless of the reason, in the Yankee puzzle, Vazquez fits.
"Since the moment I got in here, everybody's been great," Vazquez said. "We've got a lot of great guys here in the clubhouse who have made me feel welcome."
That comfort level is encouraging, considering the fact that Vazquez could play a huge role in any regular-season and October success the Yankees are to experience this season.
The rest of New York's staff is a question mark, with Mike Mussina lacking ‘ace' qualities thus far, Kevin Brown's track record pockmarked with red injury flags and both Jose Contreras and Jon Lieber delivering huge question marks to a muddled rotation picture.
That's fine, Posada says. In a big must-win game (and no, there are none in May), the ball would be secure in the grip of Vazquez's right hand.
"You can see it in his eyes," Posada said. "His attitude gets a little bit better every time out there."
Good news for the Yankees. Bad news for the rest of the American League.
PinstripesPlus.com Recommended Stories
Week 12: Super Sleepers
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Jeb Gorham digs in his list of rankings to find the best sleepers for deeper formats. Consider giving these players a chance, but be aware of the risks! Since the…Read More
How the CFB Playoff Will Look in December
Our weekly look at how the CFB Playoff will look in December based on the newest Top 25...Read More
Hardin blasts Goodell over Peterson case
Adrian Peterson’s defense attorney Rusty Hardin blasted the NFL commissioner over his handling of Peterson’s suspension, saying he is trying to make up for the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice situation…Read More
The Biggest Reveals of the 2014 LA Auto Show
These eight glorious machines demonstrate the future of automotive design and technology.Read More
The Death of a Trophy Bass Lake
One big bass hunter's dream might have just died with the Golden Alga bloom on this trophy bass fishery in CaliforniaRead More