Welcome Back, Good Joba

July 20, 2009 – 10:47 am

NYY 2, Detroit 1. Joba Chamberlain finally made it in to the 7th inning, the first time he’s done that in his last five starts. And this was the Joba everyone expected as a starter — giving up only 1 run on 3 hits while striking out 8. He had good control, with 64% of his 107 pitches strikes. And probably most importantly, the velocity was there from the first inning to the seventh as he was consistently hitting 95+ MPH. And not coincidentally, the Joba fist-pump was back as he struck out Marcus Thames in the 5th to get out of a jam with runners on first and third with only one out and the score tied 1-1. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen that much emotion out of Joba. This could be the big game that gets him solidly on track to becoming the #3 starter that everyone hoped he would be at the start of the season.

Joba Fist PumpJust like Saturday’s game, this was another one where you pretty much had to get a great outing from your starter to stand a chance of winning, with Edwin Jackson and his 2.52 ERA going for Detroit. And sure enough Jackson was everything you figured he would be giving up just 5 hits. But unfortunately for the Tigers, two were home runs — one by Alex Rodriguez (ho-hum, what else is new?) and the other to Mark Teixeira, who got the game winner this time. With both those guys starting to heat up in the 3-4 slot it could be a long second-half of the season for opposing pitchers.

It pretty much goes without saying that this series sweep was one helluva way to start off after the All-Star break. Going in to the break, the starting pitching was showing signs of cracking — and of course, everything depends on the starting rotation. But all of a sudden we’ve gotten back-to-back-to-back excellent starts, and things couldn’t be looking any better. Yes, there wasn’t much offense in the Detroit series — but the three Detroit starters had a combined ERA of 2.86, so scoring a total of 9 runs over 3 games is not unexpected. And more importantly, the Yankees got the big hits when they mattered. And beyond the starting pitching and the hitting is a bullpen which is quietly becoming the biggest asset of the team. Since June 12 neither Mariano Rivera (13 games) nor Phil Hughes (13 games) has given up a single run, and Phil Coke (15 games) has only been scored on 3 times. Put it all together and the Yankees are poised to make quite a second-half run.

Photo: Newsday

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