Tejada’s two-out, two-run throwing error allowed Vazquez to win a stellar matchup with Brian Matusz(notes) for his first victory in pinstripes as a starter since his last stint in New York in 2004, as the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 Tuesday night.
“Obviously I want to pitch good here. Everybody knows that,” Vazquez said. “It felt great. It felt great.”
Tejada, playing his first season at third base, fielded Alex Rodriguez’s(notes) sharp grounder off reliever David Hernandez(notes), but his throw to first bounced in the dirt and Ty Wigginton(notes) couldn’t stretch far enough to scoop it.
“I can’t remember the last time I made a bad throw. I thought I did everything perfectly but I could see from the angle of the ball it was going down. It was a bad throw.”
That bad throw was enough to give the Orioles their sixth straight loss and the Yankees their fourth win in five games, all against teams with winning percentages below .400.
Vazquez’s up-and-down return to New York took a swing back in the right direction.
He toyed with the Baltimore lineup, allowing a single to Adam Jones(notes) in the third before Corey Patterson(notes) stunned the crowd of 43,059 that included “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David and former Secretary of State Colin Powell with a liner into the second deck in right with two outs in the sixth.
“I think it’s important for him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He got off to a rough start but he’s bounced back. Three out of his last four starts have been very good.”
Vazquez hadn’t won as a Yankees starter at home since Aug. 2004, when he faltered in the second half of his only season in New York. He was winless in two starts this season at home, though got one out for a win in relief when his start was skipped against Boston.
Mariano Rivera(notes) pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save 12 chances. For the second out of the inning, Wigginton grounded to first baseman Juan Miranda(notes) and ran down the first-base line, but when Miranda approached he backpedaled to avoid being tagged by Miranda, who after a pause trotted back to first to tag the base—getting laughs from the crowd.
“I fully expect to be in there tomorrow,” he said.
Matusz (2-6) left with runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh. He had given up 13 runs in his last two starts and lost five decisions in a row, but gave up six hits and three runs—one earned. Matusz hasn’t won in eight starts since April 18.
“I just slowed everything down,” he said. “I really got back to throwing everything the way I should I was able to make good pitches at the right times. It felt good out there.”
Curtis Granderson(notes), batting eighth because he was hitting .235 against lefties coming in, homered to right-center in the fifth inning to give New York a 1-0 led. It was just the fourth extra-base hit by a lefty this season off the left-handed Matusz.
The Yankees put runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth after Rodriguez led off with a laser to right-center that not even Jones, in a full out dive, could catch, and Robinson Cano(notes) singled, but Matusz induced two infield popups and struck out Granderson looking on a pitch on the corner after jamming him inside with the previous pitch.
Matusz received help from his outfield. Patterson made a sliding catch of a sinking liner in left field in the third, and Gold Glover Jones made a long running catch in front of the wall in center field with a runner on first in the fourth.
In the seventh, the Orioles put runners on second and third on Nick Markakis’s(notes) single and Luke Scott’s(notes) double before Vazquez (4-5) walked Matt Wieters(notes) intentionally to load the bases. Batting just .223 with runners in scoring position coming in, the Orioles failed to score. Jones struck out and Julio Lugo(notes) grounded into a fielder’s choice.
NOTES: The game took 2 hours, 39 minutes. … Yankees C Jorge Posada(notes) (broken foot) said he was hoping to come off the DL. He hopes it will be Wednesday. … Orioles 2B Brian Roberts(notes) (strained abdominal muscle), on the 60-day DL, will begin playing games at extended spring training on June 4 before going on a rehab assignment. … OF Felix Pie(notes) (upper back strain), also on 60-day DL, will start a throwing program at the end of the week, his first baseball activities since landing on the DL April 16.