Vazquez faces the Yankees for the first time since they traded him away when Chicago and New York wrap up their three-game series Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Javier Vazquez (10-6, 5.18 ERA) gave up one run and two hits in eight innings of Saturday’s 7-1 win at Toronto. Vazquez had allowed five runs in each of his previous three starts, going 0-2 over that span, and had not lasted more than six innings since May 18.
“It was funny. They were singing ‘Take me out to the ball game’ and it was weird having him still on the mound,” quipped manager Ozzie Guillen.
Opposing batters are hitting just .208 against Vazquez the first time through the lineup, but .350 by the third time. But against the Blue Jays, Vazquez allowed just two fifth-inning hits while striking out 13—one shy of his career high.
“The past couple starts that I’ve had I’ve always felt good,” said Vazquez, who gets an average of 8.35 runs of support, the most in the majors. “I’ve actually thrown good until the fourth inning. The fifth and sixth innings have given me trouble.”
Vazquez pitched for the Yankees in 2004, going 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA. He was traded to Arizona in January 2005 as part of the deal that sent Randy Johnson to the Bronx.
Vazquez has lost both of his career starts against the Yankees—in 1999 and 2000 when he was with the Montreal Expos—earning a 5.54 ERA.
The White Sox (66-46) lost for the third time in four games on Wednesday, falling 7-6 to the Yankees. Johnson held Chicago hitless until Tadahito Iguchi singled to lead off the seventh inning.
Chicago scored twice in the seventh and got a solo homer from Iguchi and a three-run shot from Joe Crede in the eighth before the comeback fell short.
The White Sox fell into third place in the AL Central, one-half game behind Minnesota, which also took over the AL wild card lead.
The Yankees (67-43), meanwhile, extended their AL East lead to a season-high three games over the Boston Red Sox. Bobby Abreu hit his first home run since being traded to New York on July 30, ending a career-long stretch of 163 at-bats without one.
Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano also homered for the Yankees, who have won 12 of their last 16 games. Mariano Rivera earned his 29th save one night after blowing a chance in Chicago’s 11-inning, 6-5 win.
Mike Mussina (13-4, 3.46) will start the series finale for the Yankees. He gave up three runs and six hits in five innings of Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Baltimore.
The defeat was the first since June 15 for the 37-year-old right-hander, who went 5-0 with a 3.94 ERA between losses.
“Today wasn’t an easy day. I didn’t feel like I had anything to go to,” said Mussina, who picked up his 1,000th strikeout with the Yankees. “I had trouble with the strike zone.”
Mussina is 15-14 with a 4.63 ERA in 33 career starts against the White Sox. He has won his last three starts against them, including a 14-3 victory at Yankee Stadium on July 15 in which he gave up three runs in six innings.