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.
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.
7:40 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).
8:16 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.
9:42 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.
By 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’
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.
By Joe Auriemma
The grass is green, the offseason is finally over and the baseball marathon is finally here. Being down in Florida for Spring Training to get a good look at the other teams in the American League East gave me a better look at the top three teams not just in the American League, but possibly in baseball. This division is going to be tightly contested.
Here are my predictions for the AL East final standings and the AL award winners:
With the upgraded starting rotation, solid bullpen and very good lineup, the Yankees will once again rise to the top of the American League East. Unlike in previous seasons, it’s not just about offense, but they have a well-rounded attack, including a good bench. They do have question marks, but so does every other team in baseball and the Yankees don’t have quite as many.
Red Sox 96-66 (Wild Card Winner)
The Red Sox are deep. There rotation is very good. Jon Lester is the real deal and is only going to get better. This is a very well-rounded squad; good bullpen, great rotation and a lineup that could be potent. The rivalry will be renewed this season as both teams not only jockey for the top spot in the AL East, but have to hold off a young and talented group in St. Petersburg, Fla., that oh by the way won the AL Pennant last season.
As much as I like the talent that the Rays have, I see them falling back to earth a little bit. I still think they are going to be tough and pesky the whole season, but with the Yankees’ overall improvements and the Red Sox, well being the Red Sox, I just think the Rays are going to fall short in their quest for a second straight division title.
Blue Jays 81-81
I really like Cito Gaston as the manager of this team. I really like Roy Halladay to dominate like he always does and I think the offense is decent. I just don’t think the Blue Jays have the horses to compete in this division.
Orioles management should be ashamed of how they have let this once-proud franchise drop to the doldrums of the American League. They don’t have pitching, they have decent offensive talent, but that’s about all this team can boast. This team could actually be a major player in deciding the division winner.
AL Award Winners
Grady Sizemore – He has a 35 home run and 40 stolen base season as the Indians win the Central division.
AL Cy Young Winner
CC Sabathia – I think he’s going to be dominant in pinstripes this season. Honorable mention is Jon Lester, who I also think is going to be an absolute beast.
AL Manager of the Year
Bob Geren – The A’s manager might have the right pieces in place to win the AL West and some luck on his side as the Angels start this season with a lot of injuries. I don’t know if this trendy pick to win the division will actually take down the Angels, but they could certainly make a run at it.
AL Rookie of the Year
David Price – I know he is starting the season in Triple-A, but is there any doubt that this guy is the goods? A call up by May gives Price enough time to show the league how dominant a force he could be for at least the next decade.