Man, Phil was dealing in the early innings tonight, eh? After 23 pitches in two innings, Hughes looked like he was on a roll. According to Gameday — the only reliable gun in town these days — he was hitting 94 in the first inning, and that fastball looked bee-yoo-tee-full.
But then the rains came, and they came for just long enough to ruin the flow. Joe Girardi had to take out the young gun; there’s no way to second-guess this move. After a lengthy rain delay, Phil Hughes just had to come out. And that, folks, was bad luck. Phil seem calm and poised on the mound. It’s a sign of things to come.
When the bullpen took over, things went a bit south. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Ross Ohlendorf threw one good inning and one heinously bad inning. When the dust settled, Ohlendorf had probably punched his temporary ticket to Scranton by giving up 5 runs in short order. With Brian Bruney out and the bullpen overworked, Ohlendorf may get sent down for a little while just so the Yanks can call up some arms. Tough break for the kid right now.
But the going got worse next inning. LaTroy Hawkins served up a meatball to Jim Thome, and Thome, as he had done 512 times prior, deposited the ball over the fence. If Hawkins — Wednesday night’s sacrificial lamb — does his job, the Yanks take a 6-5 lead into the ninth.
The game though ended with Joba Chamberlain’s recording his first career regular season loss. Chamberlain just didn’t have his best breaking pitches tonight, and in the 9th, he was hit hard by A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin. One of those balls went for an out while the other went for a double. A liner into centerfield off the bat of Joe Crede sent the Yankees off to Cleveland, losers tonight but winners of three of four.
For Joba, tonight’s game simply shows that, yes, he’s fallible. He won’t be perfect forever coming out of the pen. While I’m sure the pro-bullpen contingent will claim that Joba’s faltering in his second inning of work tonight means that he is not suited for the rotation, that is laughably far from the truth. As a pitcher is wont to do now and then, Joba just didn’t have his best stuff. It happens. Just like Jason Giambi’s fouling out with the two outs and the bases loaded. Just like Jorge Posada hitting into a pinch-hit double play.
Bad luck, bad bullpen, bad breaking balls. We’ll get ’em in Cleveland tonight.