May
07

The lenses of a heart-breaking loss

By

The Indians really seem to have Joba’s number. Two of his three career blown saves have come against Cleveland, and he’s surrendered more runs to the Indians than to any other team. While Joba now leads the Yanks in blown saves, we can’t exactly blame the midges for this one.

Instead tonight, we can look at the game one of two ways. The first way is the “c’est la vie” approach to baseball. Joba’s giving up a game-changing home run was bound to happen sooner or later, and as Peter Abraham wrote, the kid’s been fantastic so far. That bad night just so happened to be tonight. That home run doesn’t diminish his accomplishments so far, and he’s still one hell of a pitcher.

Through that lens, the game of baseball takes center stage. Joba threw a fastball, and Dave Delucci beat him on his best pitch. You tip your cap to that. Through the other lens however, we can sit here behind our computer screens and keyboards and second-guess the hell out of this one.

In this light, Joba is certainly the one to shoulder the blame for the loss. But Joe Girardi could draw some negative credit too. One could criticize Girardi for keeping Joba on the bench since May 2. Prior to tonight, he had thrown just one inning since April 28, and Joba is used to getting the regular work of a starter. Maybe he was shaky because he hadn’t thrown much later, but who really knows?

So when a one-run lead rolled around, Joba was less than sharp. Prior to the big three-run blow, he had given up a hit and a walk, and he had uncharacteristically thrown more balls than strikes. As he put it, “I was just kind of out of whack out there. You’re not always going to be perfect.”

So with two on and two out in the bottom of the 8th of a one-run game and the middle of the lineup, albeit in the form of a pinch hitter, at bat, the time was ripe for the Yankee manager to turn the game over to the best closer of all time. Joba didn’t have it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If ever there was a tense save situation, it was then.

To further this second-guess to end all second guesses is the fact that Joba, for all the hype and attention, has thrown just 125 professional innings and 88 of those were at the Minor League level. He is, in other words, a rookie. Yes, he is a rookie filled with poise and facing the prospects of a very bright career, but he is a rookie nonetheless. Had Kyle Farnsworth been on the mound in the same situation, Rivera would have entered the game in the eighth.

But Joba is Joba, and he carries around a reputation of invincibility. He had yet to give up a run at Yankee Stadium, and there was no reason to think that Dave Delucci would be the one to get to him. He had thrived in these situations before, and logic would dictate keeping him in.

But fate has a funny way of intervening. Things unfolded as they did; Dave Delucci hit that home run; and the Yanks went home losers with Joba bearing the weight of a costly blown save and a loss. Chalk that one up to fate or chalk it up to a huge second guess. Either way, that was a tough one to lose, and it’s really easy to argue that Joe Girardi was faced with a possible/impossible situation. Either choice could be the right one, and either choice could be the wrong one. It’s just not fair to second-guess this one much.

Meanwhile, the Yanks are right back at .500 with Cliff Lee and his 0.94 ERA on tap later today. But as we all know, it’s still early.

Categories : Game Stories

38 Comments»

  1. Jamal G. says:

    I thought I was hearing things when I heard more than a couple boos for Joba Chamberlain as I was able to catch the last couple innings of the game. It seems PeteAbe noticed it too and I just can’t believe it.

    To be honest, the only thing I have to say to those fans is Fuck You.

    • Ben K. says:

      Yeah, no matter how you choose to view this loss, booing is simply unacceptable. But those are the same fans that would really see Kei Igawa on Friday than Ian Kennedy. What are you gonna do?

      • mustang says:

        “But those are the same fans that would really see Kei Igawa on Friday than Ian Kennedy. ”
        That’s a strong statement and probably not all true.
        Anyone who booed Joba last night doesn’t have a clue.
        Although most us would rather see some one better then Igawa it would be nice to see anyone that can get pass the 3rd inning.

        Lets not try and mix the two.

        • mustang says:

          “But those are the same fans that would really see Kei Igawa on Friday than Ian Kennedy. ”
          That’s a strong statement and probably not all true.
          Anyone who booed Joba last night doesn’t have a clue.
          Although most of us would rather see some one better then Igawa it would be nice to see anyone that can get pass the 3rd inning.

          Lets not try and mix the two.

  2. Yankee Girl says:

    You seriously trying to pin this loss on Girardi? I think that’s nitpicking. When does the player ever take any responsibility? Joba had both Sizemore and Peralta on 2 strike counts and then he eventually ended up walking both of them. He got the next batter. He was one out away from getting out of the inning.

    Bottomline: Joba blew it tonight. However, he’s still the person I want on the same spot tomorrow and the subsequent games.

    Regarding the boos, yes, I’ve come to accept that Yankee Stadium has been taken over by retards. The wave. The Latroy incident. Now this. I hope the real season ticket holders start showing up at these games to put a stop to all this nonsense.

    • Ben K. says:

      I’m not pinning it on Girardi. I’m suggesting that the move to make could be to put in Rivera. The move to make could also be to stick with Joba. And in the end, the loss is on Joba’s shoulders. That, perhaps, was not clear enough in the post.

  3. Simon B. says:

    Wow, what’s this about blaming Girardi for not keeping Joba fresh? He had 3 days rest, one of which was an off-day. That hardly sounds like a major layoff—especially as he had pitched 3 of the 4 previous days before the rest.

    If one reliever had to blow it tonight, I don’t mind that Joba was the one. Maybe it will get through to some of the thicker fans that no reliever is invincible. I always hear stuff about how they don’t trust a guy because he had a couple of bad outings. Joba may be good in the bullpen, but he is dispensable there. With the talent the Yankees have, they’re find some good relievers to pick up the slack once Joba goes to the rotation.

    • Ben K. says:

      Ok, Ok. I’ve tempered the language a bit. There’s enough hypothetical “blame” to go around. Again, I’m not trying to blame anyone; I’m just offering up a few ways to view this game. It’s not really fair to flat-out second-guess Girardi when he didn’t make a bad move.

  4. Rich says:

    I think that it’s fair to say that Girardi should find a way to use Joba more frequently, in part because it’s time to begin the the process of stretching him out to become a starter. It could also obviate the need to send him down to SWB in order to accomplish that.

    I don’t agree that Girardi should have turned the game over to Mo because a pitcher needs to learn how to extricate himself from self-created jams.

    In any event, yes, this loss hurt.

  5. barry says:

    Now, do I start Cliff, this guy is coming out of fucking nowhere, Lee in fantasy tomorrow?

  6. Steve says:

    Joba couldn’t get his fastball down tonight, that was the problem. I know that people think since he can throw 100MPH he can do whatever he wants, but he still needs to locate like anyone else. I don’t think it was any more complicated than that. His stuff is so good he gets away with bad location from time to time, but big league hitters will make you pay for mistakes sooner or later.

    If you followed his minor league starts closely, you’ll know he got shelled a few times, most notably when Cashman & company went down to see whether they wanted to bring him up. He got clobbered that night, and it was because he couldn’t keep his pitches down.

    BTW-Remember the 90MPH slider from last year? Haven’t seen one of those in a long time. Throws it in the low 80′s now. I suspect the Yanks told him to back off on it, since sliders are thought to put extra strain on the arm. It is however, nice to see him working in the curveball here and there. That will be a

  7. Steve says:

    sorry bout that

    . . . good pitch for him when he becomes a starter. Good movement and a change of pace.

  8. mike says:

    Can’t really blame Joe for this one – to rob a phrase from time gone bye – “if you cannot hit, you must acquit.” Carmona couldn’t throw a strike and the Yanks let him off the hook – an 8 pirch 2nd inning after working him to death in the first inning is unacceptable.
    I thought about teling Bobby he isn’t safe until he runs hard the whole way from first to third, and that during the slide you are supposed to attack the bag – see Di Maggio, Joe or Rose, Pete – not use it as a way to slow down and show Mommy you played today because your uniform is dirty.
    I see Melky has been taking bunting practice again….thats basically Joe’s fault as its obvious to Stevie Wonder Melky is inept at bunting, but since the job got done no harm/no foul – yet it makes you wonder what Joe is thinking

  9. Adam says:

    i’d hang this loss, like most other losses this year on the offense. only 3 runs? they had far too many chances last night to come away with only 3 runs. but then again, the underperforming offense is hardly news.

  10. Steve says:

    I can’t criticize Girardi for not using Joba much for what amounts to roughly one week. They have Joba on an innings limit to begin with and he is someone with a very defined role. If those situations don’t arise, you’ll lean toward resting him. Especially this early in the season.

    One guy who I DO wish would get more work is Edwar Ramirez. Edwar is a guy who can be insanely effective when he gets steady work, and shaky if he doesn’t. Check his AAA stats when he worked regularly and what happened last year when Torre didn’t pitch him for 2 weeks and he got shellacked. The change is such a feel pitch and he needs steady work to keep it sharp and especially to locate it. Fans will always think of him as a lesser option until he gets moved up the bullpen chain and they see what he can do when he gets steady work. I think if Edwar got in games every few days, even if just for a batter or two here and there in situations when you want a swing and miss, he could be very, very effective. If you don’t give him regular work, he’ll walk too many guys and be shaky.

  11. Brett says:

    There just isn’t much life on this team. When down in the late innings I have no confidence that they will be able to mount any kind of a comeback, unlike the recent successful teams that you just knew if they were down by a run or 2 in the 7th, were going to find a way to win. That’s missing here.

  12. LiveFromNewYork says:

    Monday morning quarterbacking always has the correct answers.

    The correct answer is crap happens and when you least think it will or expect it to.

    New York-Arizona 2001 World Series 7th game 9th inning Rivera on the mound.

    Yankee fans: this game is OVAH! Let the champagne begin! We will parade down the Canyon of Heroes and boost the city after the 9/11 attacks. Let the par-tay begin!!!

    ——

    In sum: there are more devastating losses than last night. It also happens to better pitchers at more inopportune times.

    _____

    Chill out and STOP BOOING THE KIDS!!!!

  13. mustang says:

    Regardless of the hard lost last night I still feel that this team is about to make a move.

    On Joba:
    Only God is perfect.

  14. not that I expected Joba to blow this game, but I expected him to blow a few games this season. What concerns me more than Joba having a night where he just doesn’t have it, is seeing his reaction to that home run.

    It looked like he was gonna cry!

    It doesn’t matter what he is going to do in teh organization he has to be tougher than that. A reliever has to be able to forget yesterdays blown save, a starter has to settle down and finish the game.

    Piggy-backing off of what Steve said earlier, “If you followed his minor league starts closely, you’ll know he got shelled a few times, most notably when Cashman & company went down to see whether they wanted to bring him up.”

    Seems to imply to me that Joba has a long memory, and really wanted to prove something tonight against the Indians. Started overthrowing a bit and lost some of the command on his fastball. Rookie mistake. He’ll learn as long as he doesn’t get into his own head.

  15. flynn says:

    Farnsworth would have been destroyed by everyone if he had walked 2 and let David Fucking Delucci take him yard. Joba should get the same critical eye cast upon him. Don’t shake off a vet catcher who knows how to call a game a hell of a lot better than you young fella. You hope lessons come free. this one cost us a game.

    • RichYF says:

      I wholeheartedly disagree. Farnsworth gets “destroyed by everyone” because he flat out sucks. Would you give Mo hell for blowing a save? Joba is working on his reputation, but he’s hardly unreliable. If Farnsy is in there, most people are ALREADY pissed even before he throws a pitch. That’s the difference here in my opinion. Joba has been reliable, Mo has been reliable, Farns has not.

      If you’re going to criticize someone for making mistakes then you really need to watch another sport. You can’t expect perfection 162/162 times. You just can’t.

  16. steve (different one) says:

    blaming Girardi is absolutely ridiculous.

    Delucci hit a well-spotted 95 MPH fastball.

    Joba pitched on Friday so he didn’t pitch Saturday. on Sunday, Ohlendorf needed an inning b/c he’d had 4 days off, and Mo needed an inning for whatever reason (maybe he asked for it?).

    you can’t rip Girardi for taking Rasner out early and then complain about not getting Joba an inning on Sunday.

    if it was up to you guys, Rasner goes 7 on Sunday, then Ohlendorf and Mo needed to work.

    you can’t have it both ways.

    how come the players never lose games anymore? it’s always the manager or the GM or some other crap.

  17. steve (different one) says:

    if Mo comes in and gives up a broken bat bloop everyone here would be ripping Girardi for not sticking with the strikeout pitcher.

    • Ben K. says:

      It seems to me that everyone — and I don’t mean to single out you, Steve — stopped reading this post before the second to last a paragraph. I wrote there:

      Either way, that was a tough one to lose, and it’s really easy to argue that Joe Girardi was faced with a possible/impossible situation. Either choice could be the right one, and either choice could be the wrong one. It’s just not fair to second-guess this one much.

      I’m not trying to overly second-guess Girardi. My point is that this crap happens. Home runs happen. Losses happen. Joba’s not going to pitch to a sub-1.00 ERA forever. Girardi had a tough decision to make, and he made a perfectly acceptable decision that just happened to backfire.

      • steve (different one) says:

        sure, but you still wrote this:

        In this light, Joba is certainly the one to shoulder the blame for the loss. But Joe Girardi could draw some negative credit too. One could criticize Girardi for keeping Joba on the bench since May 2.

        May 2 was all of 2 games ago.

        i am asking *when* you think he should have pitched between May 2nd and last night since you already criticized Girardi for going to the bullpen on May 4th.

        i love this blog and i am sorry if i don’t want to see it turn into another Was Watching or LoHud (the commenters, not Pete) where every single move has to be dissected and criticized because we all get the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

        not that i think that will happen. but that is what i was reacting to.

        blaming Girardi AT ALL (yes, i read the whole thing) just strikes me as a “sports radio” argument, and you guys are so much better than that.

  18. chris says:

    people are forgetting that this guy is a rookie which was the best thin pointed out by RAB. It seems as though everyone has forgotten that. If he moves to the rotation, what will be the reaction when he gets knocked aound a couple of times because it will happen.

    melky needs to lean to bust especially if Girardi is the manager because I really think Joe eventually will bring more of the NL style – remember he is still managing torre’s team – 3 run home run or nothing, never bunt because it kills a big inning, and go base to base with slow players.

    In the offseason, I can see this team being made over, specifically adding more speed.

    I think Furcal is a free agent next year. That would be the best sining this team could make provided Jeter would move to 1st. It impoves thei defense at short and 1st emmensly as furcal has very god range and a cannon. offensively, furcal gives you a ton of speed hitting in front of Jeter. it would also have the added benefit of extending jete’s career much as the move to fist did for rose.

    Of course, I would really love to see Manny hitting behind or in front of AROD. doesnt go with the NL style, but that would be one of the best 1-2 punches of all time with 2 of the 3 best right hand hitters maybe even 2 or the top three hitters in the game today period. that is just a pipe dream though.

  19. flynn says:

    Furcal might well be 57 years old… And Jeter isn’t moving to 1st or anywhere during this contract.

  20. A-Point says:

    First off, Joba was not throwing all that well last night. Walking Sizemore was trouble to begin things off. Joba was shaking off the catcher and gave up another walk without ever challenging Peralta with his fastball.

    With two outs and a rookie pitcher having some control problems, and having two on shouldn’t the gray matter start to work? Girardi was shown to be heading to the steps, Mo was fairly close to being ready to come in. You have a lefty fastball pull hitting batter pinch hitting, and a short right field porch.

    I am sorry, but Joba was doing a poor job of pitch selection and quite possibly tipping his pitches because of his shaking off Molina. Control wasn’t all that good. Why wouldn’t you go with Mo for 4 outs? Mo would have been a far better match up for a lefty batter.

    Girardi has not shown me anything this season that makes me feel he is all that great a manager. Musical chair lineups that AREN’T WORKING. Sticking with Giambi because he hits better when he is playing at first… errr, does that mean that Giambi would be hitting worse than he is right now? That’s pitiful.

    Girardi has shown himself to be a liar. He has shown himself to not make very good use of the bullpen. He micro-manages the lineup without regard to how that negatively affects batters to be constantly moved around. He has a contentious relationship with the press. He did the same thing Torre would have done with regard to over using one pitcher – Ohlendorf during April.

    While we knew that Joba would have his blown saves, that he would give up hits, this game was lost because Girardi didn’t manage the whole game well. Lack of running except for one stolen base attempt by Abreu. Lack of small ball ever being played.

    I don’t think Girardi is all that great as a manager. I think his style is entirely wrong for the Yankees. The childish BS of wearing number 27. The Girardi show. The over tinkering with the lineup every night.

    I would put the blame last night on both Joba – a rookie – for not using good pitch selection throughout the inning, and even more so on Girardi because he should have seen this coming from the Sizemore and Peralta at bats. Cone was talking about the shaking off of pitches that Joba was giving. You could feel the loss coming. If Girardi is so “smart”, why couldn’t see disaster coming?

    Wedge out-managed him. Wedge is a far better manager than Girardi.

    • Simon B. says:

      Wearing 27? Scandalous!

      Really, nearly all of those complaints are pretty petty.

    • Count Zero says:

      I think this is way over the top. While I wouldn’t call Girardi’s resume to date great, I would give him a C. A lot of the things you’re criticizing him for are legitimate, but…

      For example, the lineup over-management has been a repeated criticism. However, given the way this offense has under-performed, would you be happy if he was trotting the same lineup out there every day? I think not. Add in the fact that he’s missing his standard 4 and 6 hitters…I think people are being over-critical here.

      And hitting him for the Joe Girardi show? C’mon — you really think that was his idea? I’ll give you 100 to 1 that idea came from Yankees management to help boost YES ratings with a personality that was very successful doing segments for Kids on Deck. No way Girardi requested that show every week.

    • steve (different one) says:

      ugh, what a terrible post. i don’t even have the energy to go point by point.

    • Glen L says:

      “lack of small ball being played”

      This is their problem?? the team that led MLB in runs scored last year should GIVE the other team free outs in an effort to “manufacture” runs?

      The yankees do not need to, nor should they, engage in “small ball” … they have plenty of high power bats and career high OBP guys .. there is no need to give away an out with this lineup … the lineup as a whole needs to start being more patient, seeing more pitches, and get back to hitting and getting on base

      Also the bullpen as a whole has been fantastic this year, its patently unfair to rip Girardi for his handling of the bullpen given its production

      and come on, it was Dave freaking Delluci we’re talking about … not Manny Ramirez … critize all you want .. sure he could have brought in Mo, but leaving Joba in wasn’t the “wrong” move .. it just didn’t work out

      some people are freaking nuts .. geez

      • A.D. says:

        If they were leading the league in runs now you may have a point, and they really slugged their way through the playoffs the last 2 years, playing small ball is something the yankees used to do to some extent during the WS runs (lots of hit & runs) and then they stopped, and thus they had trouble wining close games against top notch pitching in the playoffs.

        Small ball, like speed, is less likely to go into slumps, and thats why Girardi was brought in instead of Mattingly, so if Girardi isn’t going to play that way they shouldn’t have hired him.

        With regard to Joba, compeletly the right move to leave him in, and if its the same situation tonight I’d let him pitch to Delluci, Victor Martinez, or whomever they bring up to hit, everyone has blown saves, even Rivera in his hayday, Joba isn’t a head case, he’s the stud 8th inning guy until he starts, so you leave him as that.

        • Glen L says:

          I don’t disagree that “small ball” can make sense in certain instances … a close game in late innings for example

          I just don’t think the yankees problem has been a “lack of small ball” this season … and i don’t think its the type of thing that’s going to get the offense back on track

        • steve (different one) says:

          and thats why Girardi was brought in instead of Mattingly

          says who?

          you basically made this up.

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