- Kieran Darcy, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- Joba Chamberlain had another stinker of an outing on Wednesday. At least he didn't sugarcoat it afterwards.
"I know I suck right now," Chamberlain said. "There’s no getting around it."
The Yankees had just scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, cutting their deficit to 4-3. But starter Andy Pettitte had already thrown 107 pitches, so manager Joe Girardi turned to Chamberlain in the top of the seventh.
New York Yankees
Chamberlain quickly gave those two runs back, courtesy of an Elvis Andrus single, followed by a Nelson Cruz home run to left-center field. The Rangers went on to win 8-5. (Chamberlain gave up two more hits in the inning, too.)
"He’s just making mistakes in the middle of the plate," Girardi said. "Tonight it was with the curveball (to Cruz). I think Andrus hit a fastball. He’s just getting too much of the plate, and they’re not missing it."
Since returning from the disabled list on May 30, Chamberlain has made nine relief appearances for the Yanks. In nine innings pitched, he has surrendered nine earned runs.
His ERA on the season? A team-high 6.38.
And velocity hasn't been the problem -- Chamberlain's fastball topped out at 97 mph on Wednesday.
"I’ll have to look at the tape," Chamberlain said. "Obviously if it was that bad mechanically my velo would be down. And it’s continued to get better. So we have to figure out what the problem is and fix it, fix it quick."
Girardi said he hasn't lost confidence in him.
"Somehow we have to find a way to get him going, that’s the bottom line," the manager said. "This guy needs to help us, and to me his stuff is too good not to help us. But right now he’s making mistakes."
The question is, how many more times can Girardi give Chamberlain the ball in pressure situations? He was booed off the Yankee Stadium mound Thursday, and not for the first time this year.
The Yankees' pitching staff, as a whole, has been outstanding this season. They currently boast the third-best ERA in the American League.
But their two weakest pitchers, ERA-wise, are fellow 27-year-olds Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.
Who would have thought this would happen a few years ago?
Back in 2007, Hughes was promoted from Triple-A in April and had a no-hitter going in his second big-league start before injuring his hamstring. Chamberlain was called up in August and was an instant phenom, giving up just one earned run in 24 innings (0.38 ERA), with 34 strikeouts.
Seems like ancient history now, doesn't it?