The early returns on Javier Vazquez’s to pinstripes? Deja vu all over again. He was torched for eight runs on eight hits — including two home runs — a 9-3 loss to the Rays on Friday night. I’d show you the back pages of the New York tabloids panicking and overreacting, but they are too busy talking about some Tiger guy right now.
Vazquez told the New York Daily News that Friday’s failure was a direct result of his failure to execute.
“The first three innings I was making good pitches, but after that I
wasn’t making good pitches,” Vazquez said. “With men on base I was just
rushing too much. Bottom line is I didn’t make my pitches and when you
don’t make pitches and you get the ball in the middle of the plate
they’re going to hit you hard and that’s what happened.”
I love how there’s this belief that Vazquez’s success last season was some creation of the National League East. Granted, he should see some regression with a move back to the American League, any pitcher would, but remember that Vazquez was 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a 30/9 K/BB ratio in five starts against the Phillies last season, and they’re hardly chop liver. Expecting a repeat of last season’s results would be silly, especially with his flyball rate, but I have a feeling he’s going to be just fine.
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, the team crowned ace Justin Verlander the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.