Well, the rumors are true. Joba Chamberlain is human after all, issuing a couple eighth-inning walks and surrendering a game-winning homer to former Yankee David Dellucci on a fastball up and in as the Yankees drop the opener, 5-3. Pettite pitched a very good game, and Cool Hand Nuke entered and did well in the seventh. Yet Joba strangely threw a slew of off-speed pitches and even fastballs for balls, and struggled with his command after several days off in taking the blown save and loss. The offense, which was patient but stranded nine runners and three in scoring position, should have done more off Carmona who struggled.

The Yankees threatened to open it up in the first off Carmona, who labored, loading the bases with one out as Jeter singled, Abreu walked, and Matsui singled. Yet Giambi narrowly avoided hitting into a double play, scoring one, 1-0 Yankees. Melky then swung at the first pitch back to Carmona, ending the threat. Pettite was very good, working a 1-2-3 second and getting out of trouble in the third, when Molina threw out Francisco from his knees as Francisco tried to steal second, just like his brother did Sunday night against the Cubs. Peralta cranked a two-run homer off Pettite in the top of the fourth, but the Yankees responded with two of their own in the bottom half. Matsui worked a very good nine-pitch walk to lead off, and Giambi at long last drove the ball to left-center, scoring Matsui on a double. Melky’s productive 4-3 moved Giambi to third, and Cano’s single through the hole gave the Yankees the 3-2 lead in the Tough Love fourth. Betemit forced Cano at second, Molina singled, but JD was robbed of at least one RBI on Sizemore’s terrific diving catch in left-center, keeping the game close.

In another key play in the fifth, Abreu walked and tried to take third on Matsui’s single, but was thrown out by Gutierrez on a close play. It looked like he was just safe, but it was bang-bang, and on a shallow hit it was a chance Abreu took and lost. In all, he had a tough day on the bases and at the plate, getting caught stealing second as well and striking out twice. Pettite worked around Jeter’s sloppy throwing error in the sixth to keep it 3-2, and though he allowed Hafner a lead-off single in the seventh, fanned Francisco, and Cool Hand Nuke entered and fanned Shoppach and retired Marte on an F8.

All seemed well, yet Joba entered and struggled, very much unlike him. He walked Sizemore to start the eighth, never a good move. Clearly playing for a run, Carroll bunted him over to second. Joba then walked Peralta, got Garko to fly out to right on a 2-0 fastball, and Eric Wedge inserted Dellucci to hit for Gutierrez. Joba threw an 0-1 fastball chest-high but over enough of the plate, and Dellucci cranked it out to right, 5-3 Indians. You could hear a pin drop in Yankee Stadium. The pitch to Dellucci wasn’t Joba’s best but it also wasn’t horrible. Yet the mistake to me was not only the two preceding walks, but also going to too much off-speed stuff in the inning, seemingly against the wishes of Molina. Well, a blown save was bound to happen, and this kid too shall learn and have growing pains. This was one of them, as Joba literally looked ready to tear his hear out in the dugout after blowing the save and game. Despite Betemit’s two-out single in the eighth and having the top of the order up in the ninth, the Yankees mustered nothing, losing 5-3.

Pettite was strong, going 6 1/3 and allowing only five hits, two runs earned, a walk, and fanning six on 104 pitches/65 strikes. He gave them what they needed, a very good start against a struggling but high quality pitcher in Carmona, who labored through five walking five and allowing six hits and three runs earned on 95 pitches. He should thank Sizemore for saving his bacon on JD’s liner in the fourth. Yet the Yankees also didn’t do nearly enough to make their good patience pay, stranding nine. Matsui was 3-3 with a run, batting .342 now as he extended his hitting streak to 15 games. Giambi was 1-3 with 2 RBIs (16 on the year), raising his average to a whopping .157. Jeter, Molina, Betemit, and Cano were all 1-4. JD was really cooled off, going 0-5, dropping to .282 and looking bad in his two strikeouts. Melky the Clutch was 0-4 to fall to .280, and though he worked two walks Abreu was 0-3, falling to .299 as he was pegged out at third, at second on the attempted steal, and fanned twice including looking at a called third strike to end the game.

Though I genuinely feel he’ll bounce back and be just fine, and these ERAs will likely not stay as so, Joba and Nuke each have a 3.38 ERA, testament to what one blown game can to to Joba’s very good year, and what Cool Hand Nuke’s recent hot streak has done for him and the team. The Yankees had their game-shortening formula set up, but Joba’s walks really hurt before Dellucci’s blast. He’s a kid and he’ll learn sooner or later–like Kennedy who was brilliant tonight in SWB ( 7 1/3, one hit, no runs, no walks, and 8 K’s)–throw strikes and don’t walk guys. Joba’s stuff is overwhelming, but he went away from it tonight and it cost him and the team.

Wang (6-0, 3.00 ERA) gets Lee (5-0, 0.96 ERA) tomorrow night in an HDLR event. Come on in and hopefully watch and discuss the Yankees get back above .500. The Yanks have now fallen 4 1/2 behind Boston. Tough loss to take, and a hard lesson for Joba to learn. But kids are kids. As much as I’ve touted Joba and his ability to shorten games, mistakes are costly, and he’s not infallible.

Published in: on May 6, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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