Thursday, July 30, 2009

Eight Strong To Win Seven For Joba

From the first batter of the game last night, it was apparent that the Yanks had put the struggles of the previous game behind them. Derek Jeter worked a 2-2 count and proceeded to slice a ball down the right field line that travelled all the way into the corner. In his attempt to wrangle the ball, LF Gabe Gross inadvertently did his best Nick Swisher impression, buying Jeter enough time to get to 3rd base standing up. Two batters later, Mark Teixeira knocked Jete home with a single and the Yanks were off to the races.

After being staked to the early lead, Joba Chamberlain looked confident and dominant. He worked relatively quickly, retiring the first 8 batters of the game in a row before giving up a bloop single to Jason Bartlett who was immediately caught stealing on the next pitch.

The Yanks put runners on second and third with no one out in the 4th via a single by A-Rod and a double by Hideki Matsui. Robinson Cano drove in Alex with a ground out, but one run was all they could manage. Cano struck again in the 6th, but this time more decisively. After taking a ball way up and in, he absolutely rocked a pitch deep into the seats in right field. He paused a for a second to watch it sail and Garza literally gave it a little wave on it's way out.

Joba blazed through the Rays with a perfect fourth, worked around two walks in the fifth, a single in the sixth and sat down the side in order in the seventh. In all, Joba had four 1-2-3 innings last night, a season high.

He received another run in support in the top of the inning after Hideki Matsui singled and was pinch run for by Cody Ransom. Ransom came around to score all the way from first on a single by Jorge Posada. Swisher ended the inning with a double play, the Yanks third of the night in addition to two by A-Rod, but it didn't matter.

Joba entered the 8th inning with only 88 pitches, a number he's surpassed in 5 innings multiple times this year. He allowed another single to Barlett in the frame, but that was all. It was only the second time in his career he's gone 8 innings and the only time he's done so without allowing a run. Furthermore, he finished with 101 pitches and had as many baserunners as strikeouts, five. Garza didn't pitch terribly, allowing 3 runs through 7 innings, but was clearly out-classed.

Melky Cabrera and Mark Teixeira added homers off of Dan Wheeler in the 9th to give the Yanks even more breathing room, bringing the score to 6-0. Brian Bruney, continuing with his "turd in the punchbowl" role of late, was called on to pitch the 9th and could not complete the shutout, or even the inning. He allowed a triple to Carl Crawford and a homer to Evan Longoria before recording an out. He got Ben Zobrist to pop out but after Carlos Pena doubled, Joe Girardi was forced to go to the bullpen. Mariano Rivera came out even though it wasn't a save situation and locked down the victory. Mo did allow his 5th walk of the season, reducing his K/BB ratio to a merely superhuman 9.4, from a Godly 11.75.

It was obviously tremendously encouraging to see Joba deliver such a dominant performance, but the double-edged sword is that the deeper he goes into games, the sooner he will be bumping up against his innings limit. But that's a different issue for another day. The Yanks took the first series of the road trip and extended their lead to 3.5 games as the Sox lost 8-6 to the A's.


  1. No, do not try and duck out on the Joba issue! Michael Kay demands that the starter/bullpen debate RAGE ON! IT'S RAGING ON KEN! WHAT DO YOU THINK!?

    ...I think following that fake Michael Kay on twitter is starting to have an effect on me.

  2. Gotta love YESMichaelKay.

    They say his limit is 150 IP, so are they going to take it out of the rotation well before that to save room for his bullpen appearances? We could be looking at only 3-4 more starts from Joba.