New York Yankees: Joba Chamberlain

Joba on blown call: Replay speaks for itself

September, 6, 2013
NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain thought it was a strike. So did his batterymate, Austin Romine.

But the only person whose opinion actually mattered, first-base umpire Joe West, disagreed.

With one out and Jacoby Ellsbury on second base in the bottom of the 10th inning, Chamberlain threw Shane Victorino a 2-2 slider. Victorino appeared to go too far on a check swing.

But West didn’t see it that way.

And on the very next pitch -- a 96 mph fastball -- Victorino lined an RBI single to right-center field that proved to be the winning run in a crushing 9-8 loss on Friday night at the Stadium.

[+] EnlargeJoba Chamberlain
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJoba Chamberlain allowed the decisive run in the Yankees' 9-8 loss to the rival Red Sox on Thursday.
“Y’all saw the replay. It kind of speaks for itself,” said Chamberlain, who was ejected by West after being lifted following the hit.

“I thought he swung. I thought that was a pretty key moment in the game, and I thought he swung,” added Romine, who noted he had not seen the replay.

Asked what he said to West to get run, Chamberlain replied, “Enough to get ejected.”

Chamberlain said he wanted to elevate the fastball after seeing Victorino move up in the batter’s box, but couldn’t execute the pitch.

“It’s frustrating,” he said.

Yankees fans were extremely frustrated the moment they saw Chamberlain trot out of the bullpen for the 10th, but manager Joe Girardi essentially had nowhere else to turn. Shawn Kelley was unavailable due to a triceps issue, while Girardi said he didn’t want to bring Phil Hughes, who was just removed from the rotation, into the game in that spot.

So Chamberlain, who served up a three-run home run Sunday against Baltimore, was brought into another high-leverage situation and couldn’t deliver.

The Yankees had a chance to cut down Ellsbury at the plate, but Romine, who made two poor throws to second on Red Sox steal attempts, couldn’t handle Ichiro Suzuki’s short-hop throw.

“I knew he was coming around third pretty quick. And I was trying to block the plate,” said Romine, adding that he felt like he let the team down. “The throw kind of short-hopped me a little bit, and I tried the best I could to pick it. I just didn’t get a good glove on it.”

The Yankees had rallied back from a 7-2 deficit, scoring six runs during a 34-minute seventh inning. But Mariano Rivera was unable to hold the lead -- blowing his 15th career save against the Red Sox -- and eventually, Girardi waved what felt like a big white flag, inserting Chamberlain.

It may not be a season-ending loss, but it was crushing nonetheless.

“We battled back. We did everything we needed to do to get a win,” Chamberlain said.

But all they got for their efforts was a 4-hour, 32-minute defeat.

The last days of Joba?

September, 1, 2013
NEW YORK -- At 3:46 on Sunday afternoon, Joba Chamberlain walked slowly off of the Yankee Stadium infield and into the dugout to a polite cheer from the Bronx crowd.

The cheers weren't directed at Chamberlain, though. They were for first baseman Mark Reynolds, who ended the top of the seventh with a putout at first.

[+] EnlargeJoba Chamberlain
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesJoba Chamberlain likely won't be in pinstripes after 2013.
For Chamberlain, the seventh inning was one to forget. He allowed a three-run homer to Adam Jones that extended the Orioles' lead to 7-3 and essentially sealed a crushing loss for the Yankees.

Truth be told, the slider to Jones may have been the last pitch Chamberlain throws in a tight game for the Bombers.

Remember, Chamberlain will be a free agent this winter. Barring a monumental turnaround in the final month of the season, there's virtually no chance that the Yankees re-sign him.

And after Sunday's outing, there's virtually no chance Chamberlain gets the ball again with the outcome of a game hanging in the balance.

"Well, we might need him," Joe Girardi said, diplomatically, when asked about using Chamberlain again in a big spot this year.

It probably seems like a lifetime ago now, but Joba was the toast of New York in 2007 when he saved the Yankees' season coming out of the bullpen. Back then, he seemed like the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.

Since that fairy tale beginning, though, Chamberlain has faltered as a starter, undergone Tommy John surgery and suffered a gruesome ankle injury.

He was healthy to start the 2013 campaign, but this year has turned out to be a forgettable one for the kid from Nebraska.

First, Chamberlain was embroiled in an embarrassing episode with Rivera in May, when he rebuked the legendary closer for asking Chamberlain to lower his voice.

And if that wasn't embarrassing enough, Chamberlain had been relegated to mop-up duty for most of the year.

He made just seven appearances in July after a disastrous June in which the 27-year-old allowed nine runs in 6 2/3 innings over seven outings.

In August, he held hitters to a .214 batting average in 11 appearances in mostly mop-up duty.

And then came the first game of September, when Chamberlain helped flush away a win for a team in desperate need of one.

"All the losses hurt right now," Chamberlain said. "... (But) we have the opportunity to come back tomorrow and play the White Sox."

After what happened Sunday afternoon, Chamberlain probably won't get that opportunity.

Pregame notes: Shh! Joba to return

May, 27, 2013
A beautiful night for baseball so let's check out the latest Yankees news:

JOBA RETURNS: The Yankees plan on activating Joba Chamberlain (oblique) on Tuesday, according to Joba. Girardi later confirmed that is the plan.

"It is good to have another power arm that can share the workload," Joe Girardi said.

Girardi said he will not alter how he uses Chamberlain, even with the emergence of Shawn Kelley. Kelley has struck out 15 of his last 26 batters. We will have to wait and see if Kelley does eat into Chamberlain's seventh inning chances.

This will be the first time Chamberlain's been active since his shushing controversy.

NUNO AGAIN: Vidal Nuno (1-1, 1.93 ERA) will get the start on Thursday. Nuno will be opposed by Dillon Gee (2-6, 6.34). Before that, on Tuesday, it is Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.67) vs. Matt Harvey (5-0, 1.93). On Wednesday, it is Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 4.76) vs. David Phelps (3-2, 3.96).

TAMPA REPORT: At extended spring training, both Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Kevin Youkilis (back) had five at-bats and played five innings. Teixeira is still targeted for Double-A Trenton on Wednesday and Thursday and possibly could be in the Bronx on Friday to begin the Red Sox Series.

When he does come back, Girardi said that Teixeira wll be an everyday player, but Girardi doesn't anticipate he will play a week straight. Lyle Overbay could survive for the time being, but long-term, it is not definitive that the Yankees could have a roster with Teixeira, Overbay and DH Travis Hafner.

Youkilis seems to be slightly behind that pace.

Alex Rodriguez (hip) took BP on the field. Girardi again pointed to after the All-Star break for his return. ... Derek Jeter (ankle) still isn't doing anything physical. ... Andy Pettitte (trapezius) will start a simulated game on Tuesday .... Eduardo Nunez (oblique) isn't doing anything at the moment. ... Michael Pineda (shoulder) will have another start this week, but Girardi didn't know which day. It will be for 60 or 70 pitches. Pineda will soon hit the minors for his rehab, making it possible he could be with the Yankees in June.

ODD JOE: Girardi reiterated that he would like to see the Subway Series be an odd number of games each year so there is a definitive winner every season. Girardi's top Subway moment? When Teixeira scored from first on Luis Castillo's dropped popup at Yankee Stadium in 2009.

Joba focused on strengthening obliques

May, 17, 2013
New York Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain (oblique) said he's focusing on making sure he strengthens his obliques after not getting activated off the disabled list for Thursday's 3-2 loss to Seattle.

There had been speculation that Chamberlain could have been called up, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said prior to the game that Chamberlain "isn't quite there yet." The team instead promoted Dellin Betances.

"This is one of the things where you have to make sure it's done and taken care of, you don't want to let it linger on throughout the rest of the season," Chamberlain said. "Continuing to get it stronger, play catch and throw another side, and go from there."

Chamberlain said he plans to play catch on Friday and is not sure when his next outing will be, although he assumes it's going to be in Triple-A. He last pitched Tuesday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, allowing two hits but no runs over 12 pitches. Chamberlain went on the disabled list on May 3 retroactive to April 28. He has a 3.86 ERA spanning 9 1/3 innings.

"Just to be able to trust it and know when you want to go get it, it's there and you don't have to hold anything back. Whether subconsciously you're doing that or not, or whether you are getting ready to jump on it, you want to know it's there," Chamberlain said. "One of those things where I want to make sure it's strong and we've done some exercises to keep strengthening it the last couple of days."
Jim Leyland and Mariano RiveraRick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsMariano Rivera acknowledges the Detroit crowd after Jim Leyland presents him with a gift.
DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers gave Mariano Rivera a retirement gift before Sunday's game, and in return Mo gave them a souvenir -- the last bat he will ever bust in a regular-season game at Comerica Park. It came at the expense of Brayan Pena, who was 15 years old when Mo got his first major league save.

SOIL SPORT: Before the game, the Tigers presented Rivera with a display case filled with photos of him pitching both at Comerica and at the old Tiger Stadium, flanked by bottles containing dirt from the pitcher's mound at both parks. The crowd also gave him a warm ovation when he took the mound to pitch the ninth inning.

"It was wonderful," said Rivera, who can expect similar ceremonies in every park he visits this year, starting Monday in Cleveland. "That will take a good place in my house. I have to build a new room because definitely I don't have space for all that. But it's great to be recognized like that."

BIG SHOT: Jayson Nix, the emergency-emergency shortstop now that Eduardo Nunez is out of the lineup recovering from a bruised biceps, delivered the biggest hit of the day, a two-run homer off Justin Verlander, who had retired him in 10 of their previous 11 meetings. The shot was even more impressive when you consider it came on a 3-1 pitch, a situation in which most hitters would be gearing up for Verlander's 95 mph heater. But Verlander pulled the string on Nix, who waited on the change and belted it over the bullpens in left-center.

"You can't really guess with him, because he's hard to predict," Nix said. "He's got four good pitches he can throw for a strike at any time, and he doesn't really get into patterns. We talked about it in the dugout before I went up there. It just turned out the pitch got a lot of the plate."

CLEAN-SHAVEN: In what will come as a relief to some and a disappointment to others, Joba Chamberlain took a blade to his upper lip on Sunday morning and relieved himself of the moustache he has worn since spring training. The growth was such a lightning rod it spawned a Twitter account devoted to Joba's moustache. But now, it is history.

"It wasn't doing us any good, so I got rid of it," he said. "I wanted to see if I still had an upper lip."

Nunee to Joba: I'm not Youk!

February, 20, 2013
[+] EnlargeJoba Chamberlain
AP Photo/Matt SlocumDid Joba Chamberlain struggle
with his control on Wednesday? Ask Eduardo Nunez.
Actually, that was shouted by a fan at The Boss toward Joba Chamberlain after Joba's second pitch of a live batting-practice session whizzed behind the head of Eduardo Nuñez, sending the utility infielder sprawling to the ground, where he lay motionless for a few seconds before deciding to get up and risk his life again.

"It was close. I was so scared," a laughing Nuñez said in the clubhouse afterward. "I was like, 'Oh my God, first day and he's taking me out!' That's my teammate and my friend; are you kidding me?"

As Nuñez was climbing shakily to his feet, a guy sitting behind home plate bellowed, "Hey, Joba, that's not Youkilis!" a wisecrack Joba said he did not hear.

In any event, no blood, no foul. Joba apologized and Nuñez resumed his hitting -- although he took no more swings, wanting to make sure he had a good look at every pitch -- and it was actually the less-dangerous of two close calls in the cage for the Yankees. At about the same time on the back field, Curtis Granderson was lining a ball off the left (non-pitching) arm of Kelvin Perez, who was in his follow-through when he got hit.

Perez, too, finished up his stint but left the clubhouse with his arm heavily wrapped.

Joba: Hey, Youk, call me back

January, 22, 2013
Joba Chamberlain appeared a bit bemused. Wearing a suit with his black, Clark Kent glasses, a trim-looking Chamberlain showed up at the Marriott Marquis to receive the Bart Giamatti Award for compassion at the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) dinner.

Chamberlain spoke about how he is ready for the season with his shoulder and his ankle 100 percent, going into his free agent year. He said that if the 43-year-old Mariano Rivera -- "God, forbid," in Chamberlain’s words -- can’t make it through the whole season, Chamberlain feels as though he could be a closer possibility.

And then, the little sidebar of the 2013 Yankees clubhouse came up. Major League Baseball once suspended Chamberlain for two games for throwing at Kevin Youkilis, who joined the Yankees this offseason. In 2012, Chamberlain hit Youkilis -- who had moved to the White Sox from the Red Sox -- but there was no incident.

[+] EnlargeJoba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis
AP Photo/Kathy WillensJoba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis have a long history.
Upon Youkilis’ signing with the team, Chamberlain got Youkilis’ number and left him a message, welcoming him to the Bronx. It has been more than a month and Chamberlain said he still hasn’t heard back from Youkilis.

"I did everything I can do," Chamberlain said. "I can’t control what Kevin Youkilis does. We’ll go on from there."

In his introductory press call, Youkilis played down any friction with Chamberlain, despite the head-hunting past.

"It is not a big deal to me," Youkilis said. "If it was that big a deal, I wouldn’t have been signing with the Yankees. But I don’t think it is that big of a deal. A lot of it is made out within the media and the fans."

Chamberlain said he wasn’t surprised that Youkilis did not call him back, joking, "I’m bound to run into him at some point. Sooner rather than later so we’ll see what happens." With a simple return call, Youkilis could have put an extinguisher to the situation, which will now linger until the spring.

By all appearances, Chamberlain has been the instigator for the past bad feelings between the two, but he took a conciliatory tone in reaching out to Youkilis.

"I am glad you are on our team," Chamberlain said he told Youkilis in the voicemail. "I’m glad you are on our side. I’m looking forward to seeing you
and, hopefully, you can win one over here for the good guys."

For the 27-year-old Chamberlain, 2013 is a big year, because he can become a free agent. Chamberlain is very confident he can fill part of the vacancy left by Rafael Soriano’s defection to Washington. If Rivera needs support, David Robertson would seem to have first crack at the role, but Chamberlain is not counting himself out.

QUESTION: Could Joba be the closer after Mo retires?

Joba to help with hurricane relief

November, 7, 2012
Joba Chamberlain's most important relief appearance of the season will take place tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. outside Gate 2 of Yankee Stadium at 164th St. and Jerome Avenue. Joba will be assisting in the collection of donated relief items for people left homeless and bereft by the Sandy.

Recommended items for donation include:

-- Baby bottles and formula (powdered or liquid)
-- Baby clothes and blankets
-- Baby food (jarred or canned)
-- Dish soap
-- Disinfectant wipes and bleach
-- Heavy duty trash bags
-- Blankets and pillows
-- Coats, sweaters and other warm winter clothing for all ages
-- Non-perishable foods such as bottled water, canned fruits, canned tuna fish, granola bars and energy bars, instant soups, and peanut butter
-- Batteries, especially D
-- Flashlights
-- Gas containers (only government-approved "red" containers)

If you can't make it tomorrow to meet Joba, Gate 2 will be manned 24 hours a day all week long to accept donations.

Notes: Idle Joba; Nova 'better'

August, 27, 2012
Joba Chamberlain hasn't pitched in seven days.

The reason for the long respite is simple: The Yankees can't trust Chamberlain in a close game right now.

Joe Girardi said before Monday's game that he's trying to find low-stress situations for Chamberlain.

"We're trying to put him in those little leverage situations to get him going and we've played a lot of close games lately," Girardi explained.

In other words, Girardi doesn't trust Chamberlain in a tight spot. And you can't blame the manager for that.

Chamberlain has allowed 15 hits and seven runs (two homers) in 6 2/3 innings this season since coming off the disabled list Aug. 1.

"Until we feel like his stuff is where it needs to be and the consistency is where it needs to be, it's probably not fair to put him in those (close, late-game) situations," Girardi said.

Chamberlain had undergone Tommy John surgery and an appendectomy, dislocated his right ankle and torn his right MCL over the past year. Prior to this season, he last pitched on June 5, 2011.

It didn't sound like the Yankees were going to send Chamberlain down to make room for the newly acquired Steve Pearce.

"You hate to short your bullpen at this time of year," Girardi said.

NOVA FEELING BETTER: Ivan Nova said his right rotator cuff was feeling "better" on Monday and added that he believes he'll be back as soon as he's eligible to come off of the 15-day disabled list.

The Yankees put Nova on the DL last Thursday with the shoulder injury.

Nova had been struggling since the All-Star break, going 2-5 with a 6.40 ERA in his last 10 starts. He did not blame the injury for his poor performance.

"It's not an excuse. I was pitching without any pain in my body," Nova said.

PEARCE GIVES JOE A WEAPON VS. LEFTIES: Girardi isn't sure when to expect Pearce. He could show up as early as Tuesday. Once he does, the Yankees will be forced to make a corresponding move to make room.

Whomever is sent down will likely on be down for four only days. Rosters expand Sept. 1.

Girardi said one reason the Yanks reacquired Pearce is his success against left-handers. He's hitting .275 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 51 at-bats against lefties this season.

FELICIANO TO DOUBLE-A: Reliever Pedro Feliciano has been moved to Double-A Trenton as he continues to attempt to come back to the big leagues.

Feliciano has been recovering from surgery to repair a torn left capsule and rotator cuff. He signed a two-year contract with the Yanks before the 2011 season, but has yet to pitch for the team because of the injuries.

Girardi said Feliciano and catcher Francisco Cervelli could be called up when rosters expand, assuming doctors assure the Yanks that both players are ready to contribute.

ROBERTSON'S WIFE GIVES BIRTH: David Robertson's wife, Erin, gave birth to a baby boy -- Luke Joseph Robertson -- on Monday morning. Robertson was not with the team before the game but is expected to be in uniform later Monday evening. ... Alex Rodriguez (left hand) and Andy Pettitte (left fibula) will both have X-rays on Monday. We will have updates on their results after the game.

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 9, Yankees 6

August, 20, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: That on some nights, not even the heroics of Derek Jeter -- who collected four hits, moved up two spots on the all-time hit list and pulled even with a future Hall of Famer in runs scored -- can overcome a horrendous pitching performance, by both the starter and a parade of relief pitchers. Freddy Garcia blew a 3-0 lead and the bullpen did the rest in a miserable 9-6 loss to the AL Central-leading White Sox.

Jeter catches Nap, then Murray: Jeter singled on the first pitch of the game to pull even with Nap Lajoie for 12th on baseball's all-time hit list. Three innings later, he passed Lajoie with a hard smash off the glove of Kevin Youkilis at third base. And in the sixth, Jeter smacked a home run into the White Sox bullpen, his 11th, to cut the Chicago lead to 5-4.

In the seventh, Jeter doubled for career hit No. 3,255, tying Eddie Murray for 11th.

Mighty Casey: Pinch-hitting for the red-hot Eric Chavez against lefty reliever Donnie Veal, Casey McGehee delivered an RBI single that gave the Yankees back the lead, 6-5, in their three-run sixth inning.

Milestone night: Not only did Jeter catch Lajoie, his home run in the sixth tied Graig Nettles (251) for ninth-place on the all-time Yankees home run list, and the run was his 1,855th, passing Craig Biggio for 13th on baseball's all-time runs scored list.

Boom! Logan: Alexei Ramirez's two-run bomb, measured at 402 feet, off Boone Logan in the seventh, gave the ChiSox an 8-6 lead. Logan's ERA is now 4.07.

Ma, look what Adam Dunn! Baseball's leading HR hitter added to his total, smoking No. 36 off Derek Lowe in the eighth to make it 9-6. Remarkable turnaround for a guy who hit only 11 -- and batted .159 -- in 2011.

Brief encounter: The Yankees chased ChiSox starter Gavin Floyd after just 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season, scoring three runs on five hits, including RBI singles by Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson.

Four-inning phenom: Garcia pitched four excellent innings -- allowing three singles and striking out seven -- and one disastrous one, exiting in the fifth inning after allowing a two-run homer to former teammate Dewayne Wise and leaving a bases-loaded, one-out mess for the bullpen to clean up. Which, not surprisingly, it could not (see below). For Garcia, it was his first clinker after nine good starts.

No relief in sight: Handed a thankless task, Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain made the least of it. Eppley got a hard-hit grounder from Alex Rios, but the Yankees couldn't turn a DP and the tying run scored. Rapada faced one batter, A.J. Pierzynski, and allowed and RBI single that gave Chicago a 4-3 lead. Chamberlain's second pitch was smacked into center by Dayan Viciedo to make it 5-3. After the Yankees retook the lead, 6-5, Joba also surrendered a leadoff home run to Gordon Beckham to tie the game once again.

How Youk doin'? Chamberlain renewed acquaintances with his old buddy, Youkilis, by drilling him in the left shoulder right after Beckham's home run.

Circling the drain: Another disturbing outing by Chamberlain, who has now allowed 15 hits, two HRs and seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings since coming back, for an ERA of 9.45. A trip to the minors to work out his problems in his future? Maybe.

Take that! Wise, released by the Yankees on July 30, exacted some revenge in the fifth inning, homering with a man on base off Garcia and cutting the Yankees lead to 3-2. Wise is hitting .286 with three HRs and eight RBIs in eight games since rejoining the White Sox on Aug. 12.

What's coming: Is it too soon to give up on Joba? I'll see what everyone downstairs has to say and write a column off it. Also, Jeter's reaction to his big night, which I suspect will be somewhat subdued.

What's next: Game 2 of this three-game series, Ivan Nova (11-6, 4.76) vs. LHP Francisco Liriano (4-10, 5.22), first pitch at 8:05 p.m.

First Pitch: Where do the Yankees stand?

August, 17, 2012
Elvis AndrusJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesTexas managed to slide in just a single win out of a four-game set.
They fell in the finale Thursday, but the Yankees still took three of four games against Texas this week and have the best record in the American League. The Yankees lead Texas by 1 1/2 games for the top spot in the AL and finished 4-3 against the Rangers this year.

Looking at the landscape in the American League, does this series change how you view the Yankees against the competition? Are the Yankees in your eyes now the team to beat? Is this just a meaningless August series? Is it still Texas' crown to lose until someone can beat them?

Yankees GM Brian Cashman told on Monday that Texas is the team to beat, and while the Yankees certainly looked impressive these past four days, this isn't October. Texas has won the pennant the past two seasons and will enter this year as a strong contender to do so again. One series in August won't define what they will do come the playoffs.

This series shows, though, that the Yankees are right there with the Rangers. They received tremendous pitching performances from David Phelps, Hiroki Kuroda and Freddy Garcia, and the bats came alive with big hits. This was arguably the best series the Yankees have played all season, considering the competition. There was no doubt the Yankees were the better team for these past four games.

QUESTION: Does this series make the Yankees the team to beat in the AL or are the Rangers still on top until they're beaten? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

UP NOW: Wally Matthews wrote about the struggles of Joba Chamberlain. I had pieces about Ivan Nova's tough day and a notebook discussing Andruw Jones' dropped ball and the overall series.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Katie Sharp will have a YankeeMetrics at 11 a.m. Sharp and Mark Simon will post a What 2 Watch 4 at 1 p.m. Matthews will have you covered from the Stadium as the Yankees begin a three-game set against the Red Sox.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 12, Orioles 3

August, 1, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: That the Yankees are playing 1.000 ball in August (1-0) after going .500 in July (13-13). They avert a sweep by the second-place Baltimore Orioles with today's 12-3 rout, a game that was decided before three innings were complete.

Hit parade: The Yankees had 10 hits, two home runs, one a grand slam by Robinson Cano, and 11 runs on the board before the third inning had ended. They chased starter Zach Britton after 2 2/3 innings, then tacked on four more in the same inning off Kevin Gregg.

Two grand: Cano's grand slam, on a 94 mph four-seamer, was his second of the season -- he had one May 6 in Kansas City -- and only his third hit with the bases loaded in 17 at-bats this season (he has twice walked in runs). Cano now has 62 RBIs, second-most on the team (Mark Teixeira , 71).

Runs put to good Hughes: Staked to a 10-run lead, Phil Hughes, unlike Ivan Nova Tuesday night, was able to make it stand up, allowing nine hits in six innings but making enough good pitches to hold the Orioles to one run. A year after struggling to a 5-5 record, Hughes won his 11th game of the season and dropped his ERA to 3.96.

Captain cooking: Derek Jeter had three hits for the second straight game and went 8-for-13 in the three-game series, raising his batting average to .316. Jeter also had three RBIs.

Grand illusion: For a guy who insists he's not a home run hitter, Curtis Granderson continues to do a pretty good impression of one, blasting a Britton fastball into the second deck in right, his 29th of the season, to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. ... Granderson also struck out two more times -- that makes 7 K's in the three-game series -- and with 129 K's in 400 at-bats, is on pace for 194 strikeouts this season. That would be an all-time Yankees record, breaking his own mark of 169 set last season.

Rough welcome: In his first big-league appearance since June 5, 2011, Joba Chamberlain saw the second pitch he threw disappear into the left-field seats off the bat of J.J. Hardy. Joba also allowed two singles in the seventh inning, but escaped further damage by getting Wilson Betemit to ground into an inning-ending double play. Joba was treated nearly as roughly in the eighth, walking Mark Reynolds and allowing an RBI double to Endy Chavez . Still, he was given a healthy ovation as he left the mound after 1 2/3 innings, having allowed two runs and four hits

Casey Cobb: The newest Yankee, Casey McGehee, went in spikes high on Orioles second baseman Omar Quintanilla while advancing on a passed ball, leaving a tear in the ex-Met's uniform pants. C-Mac's Yanks debut included two walks, two runs scored and two GIDPs. He also drove in the final run of the game with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly, narrowly missing a grand slam to deep center field.

Here Come da Judge: The Bleacher Creatures were graced by a visit from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx native, who helped lead the roll call. Later, during a brief news conference, Madame Justice said her favorite memory of the old Yankee Stadium was "the Bucky Dent home run,'' which, of course, was hit at Fenway Park.

Coming soon: Ian O'Connor's column on Joba's return to the big leagues. Ian Begley and I will prowl the postgame clubhouse in search of blog tidbits.

Tomorrow: Day off, followed by a 20 games in 20 days stretch beginning with this weekend's three-game series against the Seattle Mariners, starting Friday night. CC Sabathia (10-3, 3.57) vs. RHP Kevin Millwood (4-8, 3.90), first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

Joba allows homer on second pitch

August, 1, 2012
Well, that didn't take long.

Joba Chamberlain gave up a home run Wednesday, on just his second pitch of the season.

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesThis probably isn't how Joba Chamberlain had envisioned his return to the big leagues.

J.J. Hardy took Chamberlain's first pitch -- a 93 mph fastball -- for a called strike and drilled Chamberlain's second offering -- an 85 mph slider -- off of the top of the wall in left.

Fortunately for Hardy -- unfortunately for Chamberlain -- the ball landed on the back end of the top of the wall and took a high bounce into the seats.

The homer didn't hurt the Yankees, who routed the Orioles 12-3. Chamberlain ended up pitching 1 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with one walk and no strikeouts.

Chamberlain, 26, was activated on Tuesday after struggling through several major injuries.

The right-handed reliever hadn't pitched in the major leagues since June 5, 2011. Since then, Chamberlain had undergone Tommy John surgery and an appendectomy, dislocated his right ankle and torn his right MCL.

Joe Girardi said Wednesday that he had hoped to use Chamberlain without any limitations for the rest of the season.

Joba scheduled for Trenton on Tuesday

July, 30, 2012
Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to pitch Tuesday in Double-A Trenton's home game against Altoona. General Manager Brian Cashman indicated the Yankees could make a decision on whether to bring Chamberlain back to the Bronx following that outing, as they have until Aug. 6 to activate or reassign the reliever as part of his 30-day rehab window.

"I think he turns into a pumpkin on Aug. 6," Cashman said before the Yankees faced the Orioles. "(So far) he's done everything he needs to do."

Chamberlain is on the disabled list with a dislocated right ankle and a torn right MCL. The reliever was at the stadium Monday and said he felt good, and planned to long-toss, run and lift. He last appeared for the Yankees on June 5, 2011 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and an appendectomy last June.

"I felt ready a month ago. It's just now continuing to get in game situations," Chamberlain said. "Obviously you can go into any game situation and be ready, but to go through the experiences and the process we've gone through so far, obviously it's helped us to get better and clean up some things. We have to continue to focus on everything we've done to this point. Even when I do get back, still have to focus on everything we've done to get me back to this point and keep building off that."

Chamberlain last pitched Sunday for Trenton, tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He entered with two outs and none on in the seventh and recorded four outs, three by strikeout. He threw 23 of his 30 pitches for strikes, and he said his offspeed pitches were faster than he expected, which he had been hoping for during his progression. Manager Joe Girardi received good reviews on the outing.

"The report we got on him yesterday was he's continued to improve," Girardi said. "His command has gotten better, his breaking balls have gotten sharper. I think that's the important thing. ... His stuff was pretty good yesterday."

In seven appearances in the minors, Chamberlain has tossed 9 1/3 innings and surrendered just one earned run. He's yielded four hits and one walk, but has struck out 10 batters. He's been able to pitch in many different situations, such as Sunday, when he came in to finish an inning and then started a clean frame as well.

While the reliever said the past month of rehab work has gone by quickly, Chamberlain is thrilled to be getting closer to a possible return to the Yankees.

"It feels good. I feel like Usain Bolt right now. Just not quite that fast," Chamberlain said of approaching the finish line. "Just to know it's there and the hard work has paid off and to know there is an end in sight is awesome. To know you're going to be back up here helping the team win and to be in whatever role it is, it's a blessing to me and I'm excited for it."

Joba strikes out three in Trenton

July, 29, 2012
Joba Chamberlain struck out three batters in 1 1/3 innings of relief work for Double-A Trenton on Sunday. He gave up one hit, and threw 23 of his 30 pitches for strikes.

Chamberlain entered the game with two on and two outs in the seventh and recorded a flyout to escape the situation. In the eighth, after allowing a leadoff single and a stolen base, he struck out the next three batters, two of which went down looking, to end his day. Chamberlain earned the win as the Thunder rallied for the lead in the bottom of the inning.

This marked Chamberlain's seventh minor league appearance,as he had pitched three times each for the Gulf Coast Yankees and Single-A Tampa. Spanning eight innings, Chamberlain has yielded three hits and one earned run while striking out seven. The right-hander said Friday his fastball had been between about 94-100 miles per hour.

The reliever has until Aug. 10 to be promoted or reassigned, although GM Brian Cashman told WFAN that Chamberlain arriving in the first week of August would be the worst-case scenario. Manager Joe Girardi said he would talk to Cashman after Sunday's outing about Chamberlain's schedule and whether he needs another rehab outing.

The Yankees have not been particularly forthcoming about the pitcher's schedule, to allow for variation within the program, if needed.

"Joba hasn't pitched in a while, he hasn't really pitched in a year at this level, so we have to make sure he's prepared," Girardi said. "That way, if we do want to change the schedule or if we feel he's ahead or behind where he should be, we're not always answering questions about red flags. It gives us some leeway to make decisions based somewhat on what we see and how a player feels opposed to just a hard schedule."

Chamberlain is working his way back from a dislocated ankle and a torn right medial collateral ligament. He also underwent Tommy John surgery and had an appendectomy performed last year. He last pitched for the Yankees on June 5, 2011.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146