A step forward for Javier Vazquez

The Yankees couldn’t get him a victory, but they had to be pleased with what they saw Wednesday from Javier Vazquez. He showed new confidence in his fastball and attacked the Tigers, blanking them into the sixth until Detroit chipped away for a couple of soft runs.

That was enough to win, as New York couldn’t touch a sharp Rick Porcello and went down in a 2-0 defeat at Comerica Park – the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

“We lost the game and it’s a tough loss, but in my case, it was a step forward,” Vazquez said. “I thought I threw the ball in the early innings and the middle innings much better than I did earlier.”

Vazquez hadn’t started since May 1 and entered his sixth start of the season with a 9.78 ERA, but his work in two vigorous side sessions with pitching coach Dave Eiland seemed to pay dividends. He held Detroit to two runs on five hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out seven.

“He sure looked good today, we know that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Any time that you can go seven innings and only give up two runs, this club has a real good chance of winning. They outpitched us a little bit.”

The Tigers got to Vazquez for Magglio Ordonez’s run-scoring fielder’s choice, scoring Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch’s RBI single to right field in that sixth inning. They found Vazquez to be a much tougher customer than his stats indicated.

“He just made pitches, changed speeds,” said Detroit’s Gerald Laird. “He obviously doesn’t have the fastball he used to have, and I think he knows that, but he changed speeds — cutters away, sinkers in, curveball, changeup. He pitched good today, and he kept guys off-balance, and that’s what he’s got to do. He’s a professional. He knows how to pitch, and he definitely pitched well.”

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