After Joba Chamberlain gave up the dramatic three-run homerun to pinch-hitter, David Dellucci, in the top of the 8th inning of the first game of this three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, all of us in the “Yankees Universe”, were in total shock.
The heart-dropping homerun turned around a game that the Yankees were winning, 3-2, at the time, into a 5-3 Cleveland lead, and eventual win, as the Yankees could not mount a comeback from this devastating blast.
The sight of Joba Chamberlain, sitting in the Yankees dugout, with a towel over his head, after the inning was finally over, was a view of total disbelief, as we all witnessed something that we never expect to see when Joba enters a game.
The Yankee Stadium crowd came to a quiet hush, as the faces of those in attendance had dazed expressions as if they all had just been transformed into some sort of a reverse parallell universe.
Joba caused his own trouble, as he walked Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta [both on 3-2 pitches], setting the stage for the David Dellucci blast into the short “friendly rightfield porch”.
Also, it seemed as if Joba and catcher Jose Molina were on a different wave-lenght throughout this whole inning. Chamberlain kept shaking Molina off, as the veteran catcher wanted Joba to throw more fastballs; but, the young rookie, Chamberlain, had other ideas, that included throwing a greater assortment of curveballs and sliders. So, this was a learning experience for Joba Chamberlain. Just as there are the “Joba Rules”, there also are certain pitching approaches that [maybe at sometimes] the pitcher should trust a veteran catcher [such as Jose Molina], and go with the judgment of the experienced catcher.
Anyway, as Joe Girardi said, “Joba will learn from this. In the long run, this will make him a better pitcher; and, make him tougher inside. It’s all part of Joba’s maturing process”.
And, we know this to be true, because of all in the Yankees Universe, Joba took this loss the hardest of everyone. As soon as that ball by Dellucci was hit, Joba knew where it was headed, as he bent down on the mound, with his head towards the ground. “It stinks when something like that happens”, Joba said after the game. “But, you understand it is part of the game. The biggest part is that I let my teammates down”.
Well, based on what we have seen so far in the very brief career of Joba Chamberlain, he is very mature for his very young age of 22. He will put this game behind him; learn from it; and, not let it affect any future appearances. To Joba, each game is a new day, and he is one pitcher [either as a reliever or starter] that the Yankees will always be able to count on.
In game two of this series, there is only one word to use to describe the winning pitcher, Cliff Lee, for the Cleveland Indians: AWESOME !!!
What more can be said? Cliff Lee pitched an awesome game, going 7-innings, striking out 7, walking none, giving up six hits, and no runs, in the 3-0 [shutout] win by the Indians.
Cliff Lee is now 6-0, with a Bob Gibson like 0.81 ERA..
The Yankees lost the first two games of this three-game series against the Cleveland Indians; but, even though the Yankee bats continue to struggle to score runs on a consistent basis, the starters continue to deliver excellent pitching performances. In these losses to the Indians, Andy Pettitte pitched well in the 5-3 first game loss; and, Chien-Ming Wang recorded a solid pitching performance in his seven innings of work in yesterday’s 3-0 Cleveland [and, Cliff Lee] win. This was Wang’s first loss of the season [he is now 6-1], as the Yankee bats were held in check by Lee, and the Cleveland bullpen.
The Yankees are now 17-18 on the season, “FIVE” games behind the AL East leading Boston Red Sox.
It may be a little early; but, to quote the great Yogi Berra, “It’s getting late, a little early, out there”.
I know it’s only May 8th, and the Yankees have only played 35 games. But, these games, early in the season, count just as much as any other game on the schedule. Five games behind, are only a short step from being “ten games behind”, and, then, “fourteen and a half behind”, [like, last year]. Just an observation !!!
But, if the Yankees continue as they are now playing, and they fall 10-14 games behind the Red Sox, will they have enough in them to play the way they did down the stretch last year?
Well, the Yankees were the “Wild Card” playoff team in 2007; and [in my view] if they go 10 to 14 games behind the Red Sox this year, that would be way too much ground for them to make up.
Hopefully, we can look to Yogi Berra one more time, and say, “It ain’t over, ’till it’s over” !!!