Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yanks Continue To Kick Ass, Take Names

The Yanks trailed twice in this game in the first and third innings, and true to their hallmark during their post All-Star break tear, answered as soon as possible, tying the game in the bottom of the first and taking the lead for good in the third.

As Joe Girardi predicted when he first unveiled the new and improved Joba Plan, Chamberlain did not factor into the decision. The three innings Joba threw weren't especially impressive and weren't much better than his previous start. He only struck out one batter and allowed two runs, but threw 23 of his 35 pitches for strikes (66%). Whether he was pulled just on the basis of the pitch count or the fact the he wasn't effective could be debated, but if 35 was the number they had in mind coming into the game, he could have easily blown through that allotment in the second inning.

Alfredo Aceves played the role of Joba's babysitter today, pitching three scoreless innings and allowing only two hits while throwing only 32 pitches. When added together Joba Aceves combined for a quality start and turned the game over to the rest of the bullpen with the lead after the sixth inning.

In the top of the 7th, Girardi called on Damaso Marte to face Jim Thome, and then stalled momentarily before calling on David Robertson. D-Rob struck out Jermaine Dye but allowed back to back singles to Mark Kotsay and Alexei Ramirez. With the Yankees leading by only one run at the time, Girardi went to the bullpen for the second time in the inning, this time summoning Phil Hughes. As Joe G. might say, "Hughesy" got Jason Nix to fly out, ending the inning.

The offense awoke in the bottom half of the inning, but their explosion could have easily been stifled had the second batter of the inning, Robinson Cano been rightly called out at first as the second part of a double play. Instead, the ump missed a bang-bang play and the Yanks ended up capitalizing to the tune of 5 runs, capped by a three run shot by Mark Teixeira.

Johnny Damon was removed from the game in the 9th inning, but apparently it wasn't a big deal. Phle Coke gave up yet another HR but with a 6 run leadthat wasn't too much of an issue, either. With the sweep of the White Sox, the Yanks only kept pace with the Red Sox, who took all three from Toronto.

Game 130: Don't Keep Me Wonderin'

This afternoon the Yankees will go for the sweep while the reeling White Sox try to salvage a game of the series and keep their shrinking post-season hopes alive.

The Pale Hose send Freddy Garcia to the mound. In nine career starts against the Yankees, Garcia is 4-3 with 4.19 ERA and a WHIP of just 1.08. The Yankees have not faced him since 2006. Thanks to injuries, Garcia has made just five starts over the last two seasons, and just sixteen since the White Sox sent him to the Phillies after the 2006 season. He has a 5.70 ERA (81 ERA+) and 1.48 WHIP in that time. The White Sox are two games under .500, facing a sweep today, five games back and now in third place in the Central. The season is slipping away from them rapidly. They desperately need Garcia return to his early 2000s form today; Jake Peavy left his rehab start early last night - there is no help on the way.

Joba Chamberlain returns to the hill for the Yankees today, this time on regular rest. As Jay pointed out yesterday, the plan has changed again and we are now on the Joba Rules v2.2. Or v2.3 - I'm not even sure anymore. If the Yankees do truncate his start today, they'll have a well-rested bullpen at their disposal thanks to outstanding combined effort from Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin yesterday.

In his first three starts after the All-Star break, Chamberlain went 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA, a 0.74 WHIP and a .422 OPS against. In four starts since then, he's 1-2 with an 8.55 ERA, a 2.10 WHIP, and a .921 OPS against. Which Joba will show up today?

In many ways Joba has been frustrating to watch this season. Undeniably talented, he's gone through stretches like this most recent one where he seemingly refused to work with any semblance of rhythm and insisted upon nibbling rather than challenging hitters. Compounding that frustration has been Chamberlain's use of all manner of excuses and cliches following his starts: he thought he had good stuff, they hit good pitches, it was tough pitching on extra rest, etc.

I realize 23 year old pitchers are going to struggle. I realize the Yankees probably aren't doing him any favors by tweaking and re-tweaking their plan for how to use him. But I can do without the Nuke LaLoosh routine.

While we'll likely have to endure something similar next year with Phil Hughes thanks to his lack of usage this year, I'm hoping that this latest iteration to Joba's plan will be the last. No more wondering about when he's going to pitch or how deep he's going to go in his starts. Armed with that knowledge, I'm hopeful that Joba can put it together down the stretch and keep us from wondering whether Good Joba or Bad Joba is going to show up on any given day.

Jorge Posada returns to the line up today. Eric Hinske gives Nick Swisher a day off in right.

I'll catch the early innings on the tube and then it's off to the Widespread Panic and Allman Brothers Band show. While this concert isn't quite the Christmas in the summertime that it once was for me, it's still one I've been looking forward to all summer. As such, here's some vintage Allman Brothers Band from the old Fillmore East, 9/23/1970. Enjoy the game.

I think about the bad times
Lord I think about yours and mine
You were lost in the silver spoon
Thought I pulled you out in time
And I hope that you got reasons
For the way that you've been lying
Please don't keep me wonderin' no longer