Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Joba Proves Yankees Point

A Full Time Joba

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees
0 0 1 0 0 0 4 0 0
5 6 0
0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
2 4 0

WP - Chamberlain (3-1) SV - Rivera (11) LP - Aquino (1-1)

Joba Chamberlain and his teammates have heard the debate time and time again. Nick Swisher even joked about it to Kim Jones during the YES post-game show. WFAN’s Mike Francesa will find some way to spin last night’s performance as all the more reason for Joba to be the 8th inning guy out of the bullpen (”It was only one game”; “It was only Cleveland”). But the bottom line is Joba Chamberlain threw an efficient, eight inning performance to spur the Yankees to a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians, and this should prove once and for all that the Yankees have made the right decision in handling Chamberlain’s career.

In fact, as a team, the Yankees played a very efficient game. They broke the major league record for consecutive errorless games (18), played small ball when they needed to, and came up with the big hits at the big times. The victory, which gave them a series win for the sixth time in seven tries, was their 15th in the last 19 games and put them one full game ahead of idle Boston in the AL East.

But this game was all about Chamberlain, who contributed to the defensive play with an all-out, fully extended, leaping grab of a Kelly Shoppach 5th inning bunt and turned it into a double play when he caught Ryan Garko off second base. (Joba not only made an impression last night, he may have also left one on Progressive Field.) He had an upper 90’s fastball at times, and if you believe the YES radar gun, he hit 98 mph in his final inning. He retired the first 11 men he faced before Victor Martinez ended the perfect night and shutout with a solo home run to right field. He allowed only three other base runners to reach second base the rest of the game.

The Yankees couldn’t muster much against Indians’ starter Jeremy Sowers, a soft-tosser who entered the game with a 7.71 ERA. But, they did score first in the 2nd inning when Brett Gardner walked and stole second base. (Raise your hand if you knew Gardner was going.) He scored after Derek Jeter laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt for an infield single and Nick Swisher bounced into a run-producing double play.

It looked like the Yankees would bust open a 1-1 game in the 6th when Sowers walked the bases loaded, but Greg Aquino struck out Alex Rodriguez looking and retired Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano to keep the game tied. Then Aquino looked like a different pitcher an inning later when he walked the bases loaded with one out. (Indians’ pitchers issued 11 walks, matching their highest total in the last 20 years.)

The free passes paid off the second time around when Swisher drove a ball high off the left field wall for a 2-run double. A-Rod followed with a 2-run single, just out of the reach of shortstop Asdrubel Cabrera, for a 5-1 Yankees lead. The Indians added a run in the 7th, but Chamberlain retired the side in order in the 8th, finishing the night with 106 pitches, 66 of which were strikes.

Mariano Rivera earned his 11th save, finishing the night off by chasing down Shin-Soo Choo’s high chopper over the mound to cement the Yankees’ place in “defensive” history.

Game Notes

Derek Jeter
had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, while Mark Teixeira extended his hitting streak to 14 games.

Jose Molina and Xavier Nady both suffered setbacks in their injury rehabs. Molina, who appeared ready to rejoin the Yankees this week, re-injured his left quad and will go for an MRI today. Nady felt discomfort in his right elbow after throwing on Monday, but it’s possible it could just be the result of scar tissue, either from prior surgery or from the current injury.

Yankees’ executives Randy Levine and Lonn Trost were in an Albany Supreme Court room yesterday in the continuing battle between the Yankees and Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky over the cost and handling of monies for the Yankees’ new ballpark. Brodsky wants access to thousands of pertinent documents, while the Yankees argued it is not a cost effective measure. And the beat goes on.

The Yankees open a 7-game homestand tonight when they face the Texas Rangers. A.J. Burnett (3-2, 4.78) goes for his second consecutive victory against Rangers right-hander Vincente Padilla (3-2, 4.71).

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