Mazzaro's trip home spoiled by Yanks
A's righty starts strong, but falters in his final two frames
NEW YORK -- Vin Mazzaro rooted for the Yankees as a child, growing up 20 minutes away from Yankee Stadium in nearby Rutherford, N.J. He estimated there were upwards of 80 friends and family members who made the trek to the Bronx and braved a two-hour and 43-minute rain delay to see their hometown hero face players he once idolized.
When the weather finally cleared and the game began, Mazzaro put on the show they were hoping to see. For a little while, at least. The 22-year-old right-hander, filled with extra adrenaline and enthusiasm, dominated through three scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit and compiling six strikeouts.
The problem was how he finished, and the success proved to be short-lived. Mazzaro ultimately allowed six runs in 4 1/3 frames in the A's 6-3 loss to the Yankees on Thursday night in front of an announced crowd of 44,206. Oakland quickly posted a 3-0 lead for Mazzaro, but he was unable to hold it and labored through a four-run, 40-pitch fourth inning to leave his large fan base slightly disappointed.
"I was really excited, I was pumped," Mazzaro said. "It was a good feeling going out there. I got into a groove early. I just fell apart a little in the fourth."
Despite such an impressive start to his night, the fourth inning was nothing short of misfortune. Johnny Damon led off the frame with a base hit that grazed off shortstop Orlando Cabrera's glove, and Mark Teixeira followed by hitting a 3-0 pitch for a mammoth two-run home run into the second deck in right field.
"I was just trying to keep it low -- throw a strike and keep it low," Mazzaro said. "I guess he got the green light, and he put a good hack on it -- a good swing."
When the inning ended, a 3-0 Oakland lead was a 4-3 deficit, and much of the goodwill from the first three frames was gone. Manager Bob Geren said he never considered removing Mazzaro after the fourth, though, because he hoped Mazzaro would find his form from the beginning of the game and did not want to burn out his bullpen.
|"I was really excited, I was pumped. It was a good feeling going out there. I got into a groove early. I just fell apart a little in the fourth."|
|-- Vin Mazzaro|
Nevertheless, Mazzaro's fifth inning did not fare any better. The first three Yankees batters reached base, including a run-scoring double by Teixeira. Jorge Posada knocked in a second run with a clutch two-out single, chasing Mazzaro from the game. Craig Breslow did an admirable job in relief, escaping a bases-loaded one-out jam, but the effort proved futile.
The A's offense scored three early runs off Yankees ace CC Sabathia. They plated two in the second on a sacrifice fly by Jack Cust and an RBI single by Bobby Crosby. The third came in the fourth on a hit by Kurt Suzuki.
But Sabathia settled down from there, and Oakland's bats fell silent. He eventually battled through seven innings, giving up just three runs on nine hits and picking up his 10th victory. The A's had just three hits after the fourth inning and no runner advanced past second base.
"It was cool facing these guys, just watching them when I was younger," Mazzaro said. "Now, I'm actually throwing against them. It's pretty exciting."
The past six weeks have been tough for Mazzaro, and Thursday night with no different. He has now lost six consecutive starts and seven of his past eight. Mazzaro has not earned a win since June 7.
Mazzaro acknowledged that it is tough at times to remain confident and resilient when the results have not been there, but he tries to remind himself that this is just his rookie season and he is learning with each outing.
Geren isn't discouraged either, even after a subpar showing like Thursday's. He saw the first three innings. That kind of impressive stuff further proved why the A's believe Mazzaro is an integral part of the team's future.
"He just has to do his best every time, and the team wins and loses," Geren said. "There are guys who pitch terrible and get wins, because his team picks him up, and there are guys who pitch well and get losses. The win-loss thing has always been more a team stat.
"You want to win, and I know he wants to. Just keep throwing the way he did in the first three, and he's going to win a whole bunch of games."
Jared Diamond is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.