The last time we saw Joba Chamberlain it looked as though he might start crying at any time. Sitting in the Yankees dugout, Chamberlain's anguish at letting his team down was evident all over his young face.
On Tuesday night the Yankees were exactly where they wanted to be. They had a lead in the eighth and Chamberlain was on the mound. They were able to take their opening game with Cleveland and insert it into their formula for winning: 6 solid innings from the starter, Farnsworth in the 7th, Chamberlain in the 8th and Rivera was warming in the bullpen for the ninth.
The Yankees had to feel good about themselves, especially the slumping Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano. So much had been written and talked about with these two sluggers having slow starts. They responded Tuesday night and it looked like a victory would solidify their performances.
Back in the top of the fourth inning their starting pitcher, Andy Pettite, had allowed a two run homer to the Tribe's shortstop Jhonny Peralta. The Yankees have looked lethargic at points in this young season but not in the bottom of that inning.
The Bronx Bombers responded immediately with Giambi doubling allowing Hideki Matsui to score, followed a few batters later by Cano singling in Giambi. The Yankees were back on top.
They took their lead into the eighth before Chamberlin alternated two walks and outs before allowing David Dellucci to give the Indians a lead with a bomb.
It was enough to deflate any team or player, let alone a team trying to build on a sweep of the Mariners and the Yanks' struggling sluggers.
Their fortune didn't get much better the next day as they ran into early Cy Young favorite Clif Lee who held them scoreless, beating their own ace, Wang.
On Thursday in the Bronx Giambi, Cano and Chamberlain responded.
Johnny Damon led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to break the tie and was followed in the same inning by Giambi's two run shot the expand their lead. This time, however, the Tribe responded immediately tying the score at three in the top of the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth Cano looked to build on his recent performances by doubling and later scoring on a Johnny Damon double giving the Yankees a one run lead.
They clung to that lead into the bottom of the 7th when Cano stepped up to the plate again and belted a solo shot off of Paul Byrd, retiring him for the day. The Indians turned to their import, Kobayashi, who gave up an immediate home run to Wilson Betemit giving the Yanks back to back homers off two different pitchers.
Cano finished the day 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and 2 runs.
The Yankees had gotten into the eighth with the lead and there was no hesitation by Yankees' manager Joe Girardi. After two scoreless innings pitched by Russ Ohlendorf, Joba Chamberlain stood on the mound recieving love and support from the fans. Chamberlain pitched a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout, exiting to an ovation. Rivera came in to pick up the save in the ninth, his ninth of the season, still not allowing a run all season.
The Yankees were able to salvage a victory in the series. Chamberlain responded with a stellar performance and Giambi and Cano were able to continue to climb out of their slumps.
- Mussina pitched another solid game, picking up his fifth win and preventing the Yankees rotation from falling into utter chaos.
- Wilson Betemit has gone 2 for 7 with a homer Thurday since being recalled from the minors. His bat may allow the Yankees to be very cautious with ARod as the gigantic hole in their lineup known as Morgan Ensberg can now be filled.
- Shelley Duncan was given the day off allowing Hideki Matsui to slide into the cleanup spot and the Yankees were happy not to have a clean up hitter batting .192. Matsui gets on base having the second highest BA in the league. This could lead to more runs if Giambi continues to heat up.
- The Yankees' 50 million dollar investment, Kei Igawa, will start on Friday against the Tigers.