04/30/10 11:19 PM ET
Vazquez at center of White Sox-Yanks tilt
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
The struggling fourth starter has drawn the ire of Yankees fans with his slow start, which hasn't helped them forget the Game 7 grand slam he yielded during his prior season in pinstripes in 2004. It was performances like that one that led White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to say Vazquez wasn't a big-game pitcher back in 2008, when the right-hander pitched for the South Siders.
This will be Vazquez's first start against Guillen and his former team since he was traded to Atlanta two offseasons ago.
Thus far in 2010, Vazquez has been the feet of clay in the Yankees' otherwise golden rotation. New York's four other starters are a combined 11-1; Vazquez is 1-3. They have allowed 33 earned runs; Vazquez has given up 20 himself.
Manager Joe Girardi fears that Vazquez is trying too hard to ingratiate himself to the Yankees faithful.
"With Javy, he's anxious to pitch well, and the one thing sometimes you have to guard against is trying too hard," Girardi said, recounting his own such struggles in 1996 with the Yankees. "I've been on that side of it where you can try too hard as a player, and that usually prolongs something."
Vazquez had showed signs of progression in earning his first win in Oakland, but he took two steps back in his last outing, in which he surrendered five runs in 3 2/3 innings in Anaheim. He has yet to survive the sixth inning in any of his four starts.
Vazquez's home fans aren't the only doubters Vazquez will try to overcome on Saturday; he'll also be opposing his former team and a manager who didn't always have the kindest words to say about the starter.
Guillen and Vazquez didn't often see eye-to-eye during the latter's three seasons in Chicago. Late in 2008, Guillen pointed out Vazquez's big-game failings before a crucial start against the Twins. He also didn't hesitate to attribute Vazquez's best season with the White Sox to the fact that the team was out of the race most of the year.
"When you're managing and you've been in this game a long time, you're going to make friends, and you're going to make enemies," said Guillen, who is trotting out John Danks against the Yankees on Saturday. "I can live with that. I hope he shows up to play. I hope he shows up to pitch good, because he needs it. He needs it for him, he needs it for his team."
White Sox: Club hopes for same Danks in new month
As the White Sox move into May, they'll be counting on their April ace in Danks. Danks moved up to second in the American League in ERA on Friday with some help from his offense, which pushed former No. 2 Andy Pettitte's ERA up past the 2.00 mark. Danks' 0.82 WHIP is best in the league.
For the season, the southpaw for the South Siders is 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his four starts. Those three wins account for one-third of the White Sox total of nine, and no other starter on staff has an ERA under 4.
Yankees: Early tests passed with flying colors
The Bombers' 15 wins in April are tied for the fifth most for the franchise since 1955. It is the Yankees' best opening month since 2003, when they started a blistering 21-6 en route to a 101-win season and AL pennant.
New York has managed to thrive despite a difficult opening schedule that included only seven home games -- six of which were wins. The team also faced upper-division foes in the Red Sox, Rays, Angels and Rangers in its first four series of the season.
"We had a tough schedule, and we knew it when we saw it from the get-go. We're real happy with the way things are going," said Pettitte. "We're playing good baseball, and we just need to continue to play the way we are every day."
The Bombers won their fifth straight game at Yankee Stadium and have dropped only one at home so far this season. ... Andruw Jones was a late scratch for the White Sox on Friday with back spasms. ... With his first-inning three-run homer, Paul Konerko set a White Sox franchise record for home runs in April with 11. ... Robinson Cano finished the month of April hitting an even .400. Cano is the second American Leaguer to hit .400 with eight or more home runs in April since 1961, joining Manny Ramirez in 2001. Cano is the fourth Yankee to hit .400 or better since 1961 in April, and the first since Paul O'Neill in 1994. ... Alex Rodriguez snapped an 0-for-19 skid with his first-inning double.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.