I ended up staying up for more of last night's game than I had expected to; opting to get some shuteye near the midway point. Once A-Rod hit that no-doubt three-run blast to put the Yankees up 6-0 in the fifth I felt pretty good about the team's chances of pulling out a win.
Thankfully I was right, as the Yanks took the first game of their current road trip 7-3 over the Athletics.
Javier Vazquez pitched reasonably well, at least from what I saw, although apparently Home Run Javy reared his ugly head after I went to bed, yielding two home runs to one of the least-proficient home run-hitting teams in the league. He also continued to struggle with velocity, barely touching 90. I'm sure he'll get stronger as the season progresses, and I'm OK with the three runs surrendered (though would have been less so had those runs tied the game), but Vazquez really needs to start pitching deeper into games.
On the A's side, I know Mike A. was unsurprised that the Yanks got to Gio Gonzalez the way they did, but I was fairly impressed with his outing, and if not for a first inning error that was ruled a hit, this game may have turned out a bit differently. He was changing speeds effectively and working quickly--it was somewhat reminiscent of watching John Lackey work two weeks ago, except Gonzalez throws much harder and Lackey is obviously better.
Of course, this being the Yankees, Gonzalez still threw around 35 pitches in the first inning despite having good stuff, and his primary mistake was a fastball that caught too much of the plate to a slumping Nick Swisher, who picked up a much-needed two-out RBI base hit. Gonzalez was able to mostly right himself from that point on before running into trouble again around the 100-pitch mark in the 5th.
I'll say it again: There's no greater pleasure than watching the Yankees work an opposing starter for a 30-plus pitch inning. Even if they only end up getting one run out of it, you know the dam's gonna burst at some point. It must be incredibly frustrating being an opposing manager facing the Yankees, pretty much knowing your starter's gonna be burned out by the 5th inning.
Other positive aspects were a double by Tex and another walk from Nick the Stick. Stick actually looked uncharacteristically bad in his first two at bats of the night, and incredibly swung at the first pitch he saw in the first inning. I love the Stick and of course love the walks, but would also like to see some hits soon.
In any event, the whole "best pitching in the AL after two weeks" vs. best offense meme was unsurprisingly overblown, and the A's really don't even look like they should be sharing the same field as the Yankees.
Interesting match-up tonight, as Phil Hughes takes on Ben Sheets. Hopefully Hughes continues to build on the positives from his last outing, and can actually make it through 5 innings with less than 100 pitches. Mike is actually in Oakland and will be at the game tonight; looking forward to hearing about his experience watching a game in enemy territory.