Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Burnett: A faster pace with Molina

burnett_275_100809.jpgBy Jon Lane
A.J. Burnett was adamant about his defense of Jorge Posada during a dugout chat with reporters on Wednesday, and reiterated his success throwing to both Posada and Jose Molina. But he admitted to having a better rapport with Molina, which is why Joe Girardi – not Burnett – made the risky call to bench Posada and start Molina in Game 2.

“It’s more of kind of a ‘me’ rhythm,” Burnett said. “It’s being able to throw both heaters any time I want. And just working off of that. Four seam, two, seam. Just whenever, inside, out and not really worrying about calling it, kind of working a faster pace. He just keeps me going at a little quicker pace. We seem to click.”

Molina shrugged his shoulders and wondered why there was such a fuss over Posada’s disappointment in not being behind the plate and how he suddenly found himself in the middle of it.

“I always say and I will keep saying the same thing, the manager’s Joe,” Molina said. “He writes it down my name, I will play. I’m ready. If Jorge don’t like it that’s him, but you guys have to ask him about that not me. But Joe is the manager. He puts me in the lineup and I play.”

Thanks to Larry Fleischer for the quote. Girardi is also considering starting Brett Gardner in center field, but indicated he’ll probably stick with Melky Cabrera.

3:15 p.m.
Girardi’s been down this road before, having been asked by Joe Torre to take a seat in favor of Jorge Posada. Posada has too, but it was different in 2005 with Randy Johnson’s insistence of throwing to John Flaherty. What worked in September that season backfired in Game 3 of the DS when The Big Unit was rocked for five runs on nine hits in three innings.

That’s one reason why Molina dismissed any thought about certain pitchers responding better to particular catchers.

“You guys have to understand that the one who has the ball is the pitcher,” Molina said. “He’s the one who’s going to decide what he’s going to throw. We just suggest what the pitch could be. But when the pitcher has something in the mind, they’re going to throw it no matter what. I prefer a pitcher be 100 percent in his pitch than 50 (percent) in my pitch.”

Girardi left open the possibility that he may not remain committed to a Molina-Burnett battery if the Yankees advance to the LCS. But let’s face it: This may be the right move – you live and die by pitching in the postseason and if any starter is on his ‘A’ game on any given night, Ted Williams ain’t hitting him – but it’s also a huge risk. A bad start by Burnett and you know Posada will be seething and asking himself, “I’m the problem?”

“No, I’m not worried about it,” Girardi said. “I never saw Joe Torre fret about it. I never saw Bobby Cox fret about it when Javier Lopez didn’t catch Greg Maddux. I never saw them worry about it. You put the club out there that you feel should be out there that evening, and then you hope that your club makes plays and throws the ball well. And that’s what you do, so, I mean, that’s the decision that I made.”

3:24 p.m.
Burnett on what’s worked and why he’s not surprised Posada will be on the bench

“I figured he was going to catch because we had a good rhythm in the past handful of starts,” Burnett said. “I guess it’s a comfort level. It’s maybe having the same guy out there every day and not mixing it in and out. And just getting the feel of him wanting to know what I want to do on a consistent basis instead of having to come in and out and figure out what we’re doing. It’s the same game plan every day. Just sticking to it.

“I’m not surprised because what Jorge is to this organization and what he’s done in the post season. He’s the leader in this clubhouse. He’s the leader in the dugout. When he’s out there, even when he’s not playing, he’s very vocal and he’s very — he’s around all the time. So I imagine what — how he’s feeling, you know. But like I said, I figured it was going to happen just because of the handful of starts that Molina caught me. And I’m just going to worry about taking my starts tomorrow. Molina is back there, skip made the decision and there’s really nothing we can do about it.”

Molina on creating comfort and rhythm:
“You have to find the right words and time to do it,” Molina said. “If the guy is giving up a lot of runs, you know that’s not the right time to say something. So you hold off until whenever is the right time. You just gain trust. It’s just about trust.”

Yet another A-Rod believer

By Jon Lane
Line up the fearless forecasters. There’s Reggie Jackson, Joe Girardi and now Dennis Eckersley. Working as an analyst for TBS, Eckersley explains how Alex Rodriguez staying out of the spotlight helped him during the regular season. It’s similar to what I said before the season ended: The best thing to happen to A-Rod is that nobody is talking about him, especially remarkable considering he’s dating A-List actress Kate Hudson.

“The spotlight hasn’t really been on A-Rod,” Eckersley said. “When you think about what he went through at the start of the year with the steroid thing. He’s been laying in the weeds because there are so many stars in New York. He probably loves it. I think that will play into these playoffs. I think he is going to show up for these playoffs because I don’t think the pressure is what it was (before).”

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be a native Bostonian and Red Sox fan, offered this succinct analysis of A-Rod’s Game 1 performance: “That’s something new for Mr. April.” Yeah it’s one game, but it’s the time when reputations are made and stories are re-written. Rodriguez has to finish the job, but he won over some new believers Wednesday night.

Yesterday and today

By Jon Lane
Currently playing on Sirius 7: The Spinners’ “Games People Play”

It’s the morning after the Yankees’ 7-2 Game 1 win, a game the Yankees played with their usual never-say-die fervor. Alex Rodriguez was provided with his first chance at October redemption and Wednesday night he delivered. And all involved are confident this won’t be a one-hit (or in A-Rod’s case two-hit) wonder.

“Everybody makes a big deal [out of him], but Alex is a great teammate and it shows on the field,” said Joba Chamberlain. “He plays with everything’s got and always goes about his business.

Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi and CC Sabathia met the media in a formal press conference setting. While Sabathia did what’s expected of an ace, he too entered Game 1 with a shady postseason track record and his 6 2/3 innings of two-run (one earned), eight-strikeout performance was what the Yankees envisioned when they signed him. In short, Sabathia did exactly what he was supposed to do, writes Steven Goldman.

In A-Rod’s case, it’s taken a lot longer for he of greater stature to cash in when it truly matters. Many have been quick to dismiss and even boo Rodriguez upon every failure, but not this season, and that’s been refreshing.

“We don’t listen to it, so if somebody said that I don’t think too many people were talking about it in the clubhouse or reading it,” Jeter said. “He seemed like he looked pretty comfortable all yer. When he came back he seemed like he got better and better as the season went on, but I think a lot of times people read a little too much into final statistics.”

Chris Shearn was on location last night and hard at work, providing a pregame video blog and a Game 1 wrap. The Yankees work out today at 1 p.m. with Girardi and Game 2 starter A.J. Burnett speaking at roughly 2:15. I’m not there today, but YESNetwork.com will keep you plugged in leading up to my return trip to the Bronx Friday night.

Now playing on Sirius 23: L.A. Guns’ “Electric Gypsy.” Some serious cheese.

Notes from managers press conferences

girardigardenhire_300_10070.jpgBy Jon Lane
The bad news: The wind is blowing so hard it was a heavy workout for me to walk from the subway to Gate 4, so expect it to wreak some havoc after first pitch.

The good news: It’s neither cold nor wet. The sun’s been out and it’ll be a crisp October night. Here are tonight’s lineups.

This morning, the Yankees released their ALDS roster, which includes Francisco Cervelli as a third catcher and Damaso Marte as a second left-handed reliever, but no Brian Bruney or Freddy Guzman. Joe Girardi met the media this afternoon and explained that having a third catcher provides the option to pinch-hit for Jose Molina or pinch-run for Jorge Posada in close-and-late situations. The exclusion of Guzman, however, leaves Brett Gardner as the primary pinch-runner. Another option is Cervelli, who runs pretty well for a backstop.

“As far as adding the lefty [Marte] with the lineup that Minnesota has, we thought it was beneficial to have a second left-hander,” Girardi said. “We went around and around about the guys we were going to carry and we felt that this was the best way to do our roster.”

? Last night in Minneapolis, the Twins outplayed and outlasted the Tigers in an epic 12-inning affair. It got to where Girardi and his staff got to thinking, “Do we start playing Detroit now?” Once the Twins provided the final answer, Girardi and Co. immediately broke down Ron Gardenhire’s roster and got home at rougly 11:45 p.m.

“When there was extra innings or late and we just waited until the game was over,” Girardi said. “But there were a lot of interesting moments when Magglio Ordo˝ez hit into the double play. You thought that this is the inning they’re going to score. And they didn’t score. Great game.”

“I was so proud of both teams last night for the way both teams never quit and kept getting after it,” Gardenhire said. “I told [Tigers manager] Jim Leyland after the game that was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in. Just watching two teams butting heads and going after it and never giving up and all the ups and downs, it was just fantastic baseball.”

? The fact that the Yankees went 7-0 against the Twins during the regular season means absolutely nothing. On the ride to work I was reminded about the 1988 NLCS, where a Mets that went 10-1 against the Dodgers dropped the series in seven games The Twins also arrive to the Bronx winners of 17 out of 21.

“Minnesota is a hot team now,” Girardi said. “They played us very tough then and we expect the same thing now.”

? The Twins will throw Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03) against A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04) in Game 2 Friday night. Game 3 will be either Carl Pavano (yes, him) or ace Scott Baker.

“I originally thought maybe Pavano for 3. But [piching coach Rick Anderson] wants to go TBA and we’ll see where we’re at,” Gardenhire said. “We have Baker and Pavano for Game 3, and see would feels the best.”

? Twins shortstop Orlando Cabrera is enhancing his reputation as a money player. His hitting streak is 16 games after Tuesday’s two-run homer in the seventh inning that put the Twins ahead 4-3. During the streak Cabrera batting .392 (29-for-74) with 20 runs, two homers and 16 RBIs. Yankees fans will remember the summer of 2004 three-team trade that jettisoned Nomar Garciaparra out of Boston and imported O.C., who batted .294 with six home runs and 31 RBIs in 58 games and was a key contributor to the Red Sox winning the World Series.

“He’s been here,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been in the playoffs. He’s not afraid. We’ve got some young players that I want him to be able to help out too. And he’s done that. He’s been leading by example, actually, with his bat. He’s been swinging really good. Playing really good baseball. But he’s really positive influence on our baseball team. He’s been really, really good for our baseball team.”

To whet your appetite

By Jon Lane
BREAKING NEWS: Jorge Posada told reporters today that Jose Molina will catch A.J. Burnett in the ALDS. Whether Posada or Hideki Matsui will DH remains to be seen.

“I just hope we win that game, that’s all,” Posada said. “That’s all I have to say. Matsui’s our DH, so we’ll see. Joe talked to me on Sunday. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. It’s the manager’s decision”

I guess it’ll depend on which Tigers or Twins starter faces Burnett. If it’s Game 2, it’ll be Justin Verlander or Carl Pavano (yes, him). In Game 3 I project Rick Porcello or Scott Baker, the two squaring off against one another later in Minneapolis.

For what it’s worth, here’s how each match up:

Matsui vs. Pavano: 1-for-5, 1 K
Matsui vs. Verlander: 4-for-12, 2 RBIs, 1 K
Posada vs. Pavano: 0-for-2, 1 K
Posada vs. Verlander: 1-for-10, 1 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 K

Matsui vs. Porcello: 2 BB
Matsui vs. Baker: 1-for-5, 1 RBI
Posada vs. Porcello: 1-for-1, 1 BB
Posada vs. Baker: 1-for-2

_______________________

Some interesting nuggets from the Yankees and the Elias Sports Bureau:

? Joe Girardi is the fifth Yankees manager (Joe McCarthy, Ralph Houk, Billy Martin, Dick Howser) to win 100 games within their first two full seasons with the team. Girardi also joined Lou Piniella to have played for and managed teams that won at least 100 games. He’s done enough to be named AL Manager of the Year, writes Steven Goldman.

“Winning helps,” Posada said. “Coming here not knowing what to expect, as a player it’s different than as a manager, as a bench coach. The second time around is a little different. He did a lot of things to keep this team united. The first year I think he was tougher more on himself.”

? The Yankees’ 15 walk-off wins led the Major Leagues and were second-best in franchise history behind 17 set in 1943. Their 51 come-from-behind wins and 28 in their final at-bat were also best in the game.

? Think the Yankees enjoyed their new digs? After the All-Star break they won 31 of their final 39 regular season games at Yankee Stadium and compiled baseball’s best home record (57-24).

? Think Alex Rodriguez melts in the clutch? According to Elias, 15 of A-Rod’s 30 home runs either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead, and seven came in the seventh inning or later and either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead. Out of his 100 RBIs, 50 tied the game or were go-ahead, and 33 came in the seventh inning or beyond.

? Nobody will consider Phil Hughes for MVP, but consider this: The Yankees went 58-26 after Hughes was named Mariano Rivera’s primary setup man, and 31-5 in games in which Hughes appeared. In 54 games before Hughes, Yankees relievers were 13-10 with a 4.88 ERA and 14 saves). After Hughes, the ‘pen went 27-7 with a 3.37 ERA and 37 saves in 105 games.

Tuesday in the Twin Cities

By Jon Lane
Game 163 for the Tigers and Twins will finally decide the AL Central and who plays the Yankees in the ALDS either Wednesday or Thursday. Probable starting pitchers are for the Tigers rookie Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.04 ERA) and Scott Baker (15-9, 4.36) for the Twins, who went on a 16-4 run since September 13 and a three-game sweep of the Royals to get to this point.

Because the Packers and Vikings are playing at the Metrodome Monday night, Tigers-Twins is Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Also on Tuesday, the Yankees will hold a workout at Yankee Stadium, where CC Sabathia, Joe Girardi and Mark Teixeira will meet the media in formal press conferences.

Burnett sharpening mental edge

burnett_275_093009.jpgBy Jon Lane
Earlier this week I had a discussion with both a mentor and a friend, and also a big Yankees fan. While handicapping the Yankees’ postseason chances, the ultimate wild card came up in the conversation, A.J. Burnett.

The right-hander’s stuff is electric. He knows it. We know it. Everyone who plays with him, and those who pay big money to watch him, knows it. Yet during the season, and throughout his career, there’s been “The Good A.J.” and “The Bad A.J.” Some starts he’s won by guile over talent, but for the most part there’s been no middle ground. He’s either really, really good, or really, really bad.

My friend, let’s call him R.J., brought up a valid point. Burnett spent Monday in Arkansas to be his father, Bill, who underwent triple-bypass heart surgery. R.J. believed this had to be weighing heavily on his mind for a couple of months. All of us have spent the season breaking down Burnett’s inconsistencies. From May 27-July 27, he was 8-2 with a
2.08 ERA, allowing three runs or less in each of his 11 starts. His next seven starts (August 1-September 1), he went 0-4, 6.54. There were those who deduced the pressure of a pennant race, combined with New York’s ridiculous expectations, were getting to him.

He’s never pitched in the postseason, but Burnett’s delivered in big spots before (see his one-hitter against the Red Sox August 7). He’s never hid from the media, made excuses or blamed Jorge Posada – when everyone was bracing and salivating for a tasty feud – no matter how big of a stinker he produced. Lose or win, Burnett, even when he used the worn “One game at a time” cliche, was always analytical. What he said made sense. His words resonated that the philosophy was much more than a cliche. It was a belief system, or what Pat Riley wrote in his book, The Winner Within a Core Covenant.

Collectively, the Yankees obeyed the code and it won them the AL East and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. To play deep into October, Burnett will have to dig deeper, and so far, so good. He held the Royals to an earned run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings with three walks and eight strikeouts Tuesday night. A big reason was that old “one pitch at a time” attitude, but again, Burnett has a way of explaining it so that you’re not rolling your eyes at some boring team speak. 

“There’s times in the year where I made pitches, they’ve gotten hits and I’ve gotten really aggravated and let little things bother me,” Burnett said. “Now, I’m pushing it aside. Instead of, ‘Why did I do that?’ it’s ‘OK, now don’t do it again.’ There’s a lot of different thinking out there and it’s paid off.”

There’s an ongoing debate that will continue probably until the Twins and Tigers decide the AL Central: Who will start Game 2 of the Division Series? Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News breaks down the splits between Burnett and, the chic choice, Andy Pettitte. You can also vote on YESNetwork.com’s home page. As of this writing, Burnett has earned 55 percent of your votes.

Based on his track record alone, I’d go with Pettitte (14-9, 3.96 in 35 postseason starts) and Joe Torre’s go-to guy in Game 2. That has neither to do with performance –  Burnett has a 1.89 ERA over his last three outings, giving up four earned runs on 17 hits and nine walks over 19 innings, striking out 25 batters – nor fear of the unknown. Burnett won’t melt under the October lights; that August night under a postseason atmosphere he one-hit Boston over 7 2/3 innings and left with the game scoreless only because Josh Beckett was just as awesome. 

“A lot of times, people say, ‘He has no playoff experience,’ then guys go out that have no playoff experience and play extremely well,” said Joe Girardi. “We have expectations of him. There are a lot of games that you pitch that have playoff implications or playoff atmosphere that we play in during the course of the year, and some of those games, he’s pitched really well.

“Everyone is different. Until that person goes through it you really don’t know.”

Burnett knows why he was brought here. He knows what will be at stake – “The prize is next month,” Girardi told him – and what he has to do. It’ll be pass or fail for the right-hander, and not because he’ll fold mentally.

“As long as I’m clear upstairs I’m ready,” said Burnett. “The past couple of weeks have been a real important stretch for me.”

The next few will be, next to precious time spent with his father, the most important of his life. No explanations will be necessary.

Learning and maturing

By Jon Lane
Learning. Maturing. Those were the operative words that came out of Joba Chamberlain’s start Friday night. In holding the Red Sox to three runs on five hits in six innings he earned his first win since August 6 against Boston, snapped an eight-start winless stretch and trimmed the Yankees’ magic number to three.

Best of all, he looked at himself in the mirror and accepted responsibility. In no uncertain terms, Joe Girardi and his coaches told Chamberlain, time to grow up. And when Chamberlain’s night was over, pitching coach Dave Eiland told him in the dugout, good job, great attack and remember what this feels like. For good measure, Chamberlain was awarded the WWE Championship belt as Yankees Player of the Game as decided on by his teammates.

“There comes a point in your career where you look at yourself in the mirror,” Chamberlain said. “I needed to do that.

“As a man you take a challenge and you do two things with it. You either step up or you run away from it. I’ve
never ran away from anything in my life and I’m not going to start now.
It’s going to take a lot more than a couple of bad starts to get me out
of my rhythm. When you have a coach like that who tells you like it is,
not only as a coach but as a person, it’s really gratifying.”

Another encouraging sign: Chamberlain’s rapport with Jorge Posada. The two were in sync to where Chamberlain believed it was the best connection had all season.

“It’s pretty easy when Georgie is on the same page with me,” Chamberlain said. “That’s probably the best we’ve been, on the same page, in a few starts. When you’re on the mound and you what he’s going to call, and he knows what you want, it’s pretty easy to stay in that rhythm. You keep your teammates in the game.”

Girardi wouldn’t formally commit to a playoff spot, or anything beyond Wednesday when Chamberlain makes his final start of the regular season. Perceptions change in this city faster than blinks of an eye, but bet on Chamberlain playing a big role in the playoffs, bigger that than of Chad Gaudin. Gaudin may be a reliable arm, but Chamberlain is a future franchise pitcher. It’s time for him to earn his stars and stripes.

“It’s an important time of year and we told him we needed him to step up,” Girardi said. “He did tonight. We told him we know he’s capable of pitching better and we need him do it.”

When he gets that chance, the handcuffs are off. There won’t be any finite number to fret about.

“That’s all over with,” Chamberlain said.

_______________________

A few quick notes before wrapping up.

? Jon Lester, day-to-day with a right quad bruise, wants to make his next start. Terry Francona tends to agree, but is still proceeding with caution.

“When it first happened, it sounded and looked terrible,” Francona said. “He got X-rays done and they came back clean. He actually might be right on turn for his next start, but we’ll see how he feels and figure out the right thing to do.”

My two cents: Rest that knee and fine-tune him for Game 1 of the ALDS in Anaheim.

? The Yankees’ seven stolen bases was their most since swiping eight on June 2, 1996.

? The Red Sox must hate playing at Yankee Stadium. They’ve been outscored 34-13 their last five games here.

All eyes on Joba

By Jon Lane
A bit of a late start for yours truly but ready to go minutes before first pitch. On the surface, the Yankees and Red Sox have little to play for. Between the lines, there’s still plenty at stake, writes Steven Goldman. And try telling Joba Chamberlain tonight’s game doesn’t mean anything. We’ll get a good idea what he’s made of, and if takes out any anger and embarrassment by punishing the Red Sox. A message will be delivered, both to opponent and employers.

Back with much more as the night progresses.

7:15 p.m. Side retired on 13 pitches – two ground-ball outs and a flyout to center. No fuss, no wasted effort. It’s early but a very good sign.

7:22 p.m. Joe Girardi was animated and passionate in his defense of Joba’s innings limitations and why it was in the Yankees’ best interest. Without naming names, Fausto Carmona is one example of when some young arms – not all – are pushed too far too quickly.

“Everyone seems to have an idea of what’s best for Joba,” Girardi said. “Let’s not forget that he’s 23-24 years old and that this is first full season as a starter. This is a growing process. We knew that going into this year. I wouldn’t say his season has been horrible. You guys make it sound like, and I’m not accusing anybody, he’s 1-19 with a seven or eight ERA.”

Here’s the full interview.

7:28 p.m. A-Rod’s RBI single made it 1-0, Yankees. That was his 90th RBI in this, his 118th game of the season. Overall he’s .285-27-90. Considering the emotional trauma with his PED admission and overcoming hip surgery, that’s darn good. But certain questions will not go away until he delivers beginning in a little more than two weeks.

joba2_275_092509.jpg7:40 p.m. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night, Jason Bay, who goes down swinging at an 88 MPH breaking ball. Joba’s got that look in his eye like he’s mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.

7:57 p.m. Joba after three: Nine up, nine down. Three strikeouts. 36 pitches/24 strikes.

8:03 p.m. Make it .287-28-92 for A-Rod as he hit one to the George Washington Bridge. Lester is getting pounded. This is what you don’t want out of your No. 1 starter in the ALDS.

8:12 p.m. Robinson Cano is 2-for-2 and two hits shy of 200 on the season. He and Derek Jeter will soon be the fifth pair of Yankees to each collect 200 in a single season (Lou Gehrig-Earle Combs; Gehrig-Joe DiMaggio; Bernie Williams-Jeter; Williams-Alfonso Soriano).

lester_275_092509.jpg8:16 p.m. Lester took a Melky Cabrera line drive off his right kneecap. He’s laying prone on the field being attended by the Red Sox medical staff. He left the field limping to a nice ovation. The game will be delayed for a bit because new Boston pitcher Hunter Jones will get all the time he needs to warm up.

The hit plated a run to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

8:34 p.m. Victor Martinez ends Chamberlain’s brief flirtation with perfection. His two-out solo shot in the fourth puts Boston on the board.

8:37 p.m. Calm, cool and collected Chamberlain shakes off a two-out single by getting David Ortiz to tap his first pitch back to him. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for a report on Lester’s condition. Lester, by the way, allowed five earned runs in 2 1/3 IP, the most he’s given up since May 26.

8:50 p.m. X-Rays given to Lester were negative. He’s day-to-day with a contusion of right quad. This will be monitored, but it could have been a lot worse.

9:14 p.m. Breaking down Chamberlain’s fifth inning: Jason Bay single (7 pitches). J.D. Drew double (3). Jason Varitek pop up to third (1). Alex Gonzalez strike out (4). Jacoby Ellsbury ground out to first (2). Instead of imploding, Chamberlain quickly retired the No. 8 and 9 hitters and induced a .303 leadoff hitter to ground out. That’s answering your manager’s challenge.

9:32 p.m. David Ortiz goes yard and plates two with two out in what’s probably Chamberlain’s last inning. Nitpick about three runs allowed in six innings if that’s your thing, but Chamberlain needed to show some life and that’s what he did. He’s secured a Game 4 start in the ALCS (if the Yankees get there) from where I sit. He’ll work out of the bullpen during the DS when the Yankees take the extra off day and go with three starters. That’s when these Joba Rules you all love so much will be tossed into the Harlem River.

9:39 p.m. Great shot by YES’ cameras (the game’s on My9) of Dave Eiland talking to Chamberlain, Chamberlain listening and nodding intently, and Eiland ending the conversation with hands on both his shoulders and two slaps on his left one. If Andy Pettitte’s shoulder holds up, and Chamberlain and A.J. Burnett finish strong, the Yankees are fully loaded for October.

jeter_275_092509.jpg9:42 p.m. The Yankees’ six stolen bases tonight are a season high. They took a lot from that Angels series, didn’t they?

9:47 p.m. A-Rod has four RBIs and 93 on the season. Again, this is Game No. 118.

9:51 p.m. Mark Sanchez and Kerry Rhodes in the house. The 2-0 Jets host the Titans on Sunday. Even though Gang Green’s defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown yet, I’m taking Kimberly Jones’ advice and keeping Chris Johnson in my fantasy lineup.

10:16 p.m.
That stolen base count is now seven, two from Jeter. Talk about unveiling a new weapon.

10:37 p.m. It’s safe to say that Jonathan Albaladejo will not make the postseason roster.

10:46 p.m. Phil Hughes blows away Bay. It’s safe to say that Hughes will make the postseason roster.

Jobamania

joba_275_092509.jpgBy Jon Lane
Admittedly, I borrowed the headline from Peter Abraham, author of the LoHud Yankees blog. Pete, incidentally, begins his new job as Red Sox beat writer for The Boston Globe next week. We at YESNetwork.com wish him the best. He did great things for The Journal News and he’ll reach new heights in Beantown.

Based on the amount of Joba Chamberlain content on YESNetwork.com and various columns in today’s papers, it is Jobamania in the Bronx, though by no means is it running wild. Jobamania hasn’t been Hulkamania in nearly two months. Instead he’s been the jobber – in layman’s terms enhancement talent – old-school wrestling promoters feed to their established stars for a pounding.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. If you’re already calling Chamberlain “Joba the Bust,” get real, but the right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his last eight outings. His start Sunday in Seattle was a complete embarrassment (seven runs, three innings), which left Joe Girardi to say – if you read between the lines – “Step it up, or else.” Pulling no punches, Bob Klapish writes that “the clock is running out on
this immature underachiever who threatens to take down the Bombers’
dream season.”

Simply put, there is no more polarizing figure in New York at the moment, perhaps in all of sports. Jim Kaat questions whether “The Joba Rules” are helping or hurting the right-hander. In today’s New York Daily News, Anthony McCarron gathered viewpoints from a few baseball experts. Former Mets and A’s pitching coach Rick Peterson believes the Yankees accomplished their team goals, but sports psychology consultant Dr. Jack Llewellyn told McCarron that any limits “might cause him to try to pitch better instead of just letting himself
pitch. It sounds like just words, but there is a big difference, and
the toll it takes is mentally. It just saps your energy when you’re trying to make yourself do things.”

To sum up, Chamberlain must pitch well tonight, at the very least keep the Yankees in the game. Another implosion and, unbelievably, Chad Gaudin may be your Game 4 ALCS starter.

_______________________

Hidden within Jobamaina, here’s what you need to know for tonight and this weekend:

? The Yankees’ magic number is five. The only way they win the AL East is by sweeping the Red Sox. Otherwise the party will be on hold until next week against the Royals.

? Considering Chamberlain’s opponent, it’s even more urgent he pitch well. Jon Lester (14-7, 3.33 ERA) is 11-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 20 starts since May 31 – the third-best ERA in the Majors over that span – and 3-0, 1.90 in six career starts against the Yankees. In that same stretch. Alex Rodriguez is 2-for-13 (.154) and Robinson Cano 2-for-18 (.111) facing the left-hander.

? This season, Mark Teixeira is 3-for-9 (.333) with a homer against Lester. In their careers, Derek Jeter is 8-for-23 (.348), Melky Cabrera 6-for-16 (.375) and Jose Molina 5-for-11 (.455).

? CC Sabathia starts Saturday against Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Yankees’ ace was moved up a day to provide him with extra rest before the playoffs. Andy Pettitte – his shoulder his fine, folks – opposes Paul Byrd Sunday afternoon.