New York (91-54) at Kansas City (52-92)

Fair Currently: Kansas City, MO
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Wed Sep 15, 2004
  • TV: YES, ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Javier Vazquez has lost his ability to pitch effectively just when the New York Yankees need him most.

He’ll look to rediscover his early season form when the Yankee wrap up a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Acquired in the offseason deal that sent first baseman Nick Johnson and outfielder Juan Rivera to Montreal, Vazquez was New York’s most consistent starter for the first four months of the season, going 13-6 with a 4.12 ERA through Aug. 6.

However, he is winless in his last five starts, going 0-3 while surrendering 27 runs over 24 1-3 innings.

“I don’t remember going through a stretch this bad, this inconsistent,” said Vazquez after allowing eight runs over 2 1-3 innings in Friday’s 14-8 loss at Baltimore. “I’m just disappointed in what I’m doing.”

So are the Yankees, who were hoping Vazquez would bolster their rotation down the stretch.

With second-place Boston applying almost constant pressure to the AL East leaders, and Kevin Brown out of the rotation with a broken hand, Vazquez will be relied upon to pick up his game if the Yankees hope to hold on for their seventh straight division title.

After losing Monday’s series opener 17-8, the Yankees bounced back with a 4-0 win Tuesday as Mike Mussina pitched eight dominant innings.

Slugger Jason Giambi returned to the Yankees’ lineup for the first time since July 23 and went 0-for-3 with a walk as New York increased its lead in the East to four games over Boston, which lost 5-2 to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

“I feel great,” said Giambi, who went 2-for-16 with two doubles and four strikeouts in a rehabilitation stint at Triple-A Columbus that ended Monday.

Recovering from a benign tumor, intestinal parasite, strained groin and respiratory infection, the 2000 AL MVP is hitless in his last 24 major league at-bats.

The Royals have dropped three of four overall and five of six meetings with New York this year.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Vazquez Mia vs. D. May Cin
14-10 Record 9-19
4.91 ERA 5.61
150 K 120
60 BB 55
1.29 WHIP 1.55