On the surface, tonight’s utterly pathetic 11-inning loss to the Orioles doesn’t do much to buffer the Yanks’ case that Joba Chamberlain should be given a shot at the starting rotation. When the game turned into a extra innings death match, the Yanks had to turn to LaTroy Hawkins, and surprising no one, Hawkins promptly blew the game (with an assist from Derek Jeter).
In the morning, the papers are sure to have a field day with this one. For the second day in a row, a pitcher not named Joba Chamberlain came into and blew a close game in late innings. Not so coincidentally, that pitcher’s name on both days happened to be LaTroy Hawkins. Had Joba — the erstwhile seventh member of the bullpen — been in the pen, the argument goes, the Yanks wouldn’t have needed LaTroy. Never mind that Joba would have pitched much earlier in the game, and that Hawkins probably would have throwing in the 11th anyway. That requires too much conjecture.
But counterintuitively to the knee-jerk Joba reaction is the fact that this game is a prime example of why Joba Chamberlain should be starting. Right now, it’s clear that we just don’t know what to expect out of Ian Kennedy. He became the first Yankee rookie in decades to record zero wins over his first eight starts to begin a season, and a lat injury will, according to Joe Girardi‘s post-game show, send him to the disabled list.
The Yanks scored eight runs tonight, and by any stretch, that should be enough to win the game. Staked to a four-run lead, Kennedy couldn’t hold down the fort. Ross Ohlendorf, very effective for one inning and very terrible beyond that (notice a pattern?), didn’t hold his four run lead either.
So enter Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation. With Joba in the starting rotation taking Kennedy’s place — a nearly foregone conclusion considering the off-day on Thursday — the Yanks wouldn’t need a pitcher of Joba’s caliber for the back end of the game because that pitcher would ideally be giving them six or seven innings of baseball without allowing eight runs to score.
By the time Hawkins came in to predictably blow the game tonight, the point would have been moot. With better starting pitcher, the Yanks wouldn’t have been in the 11th inning scrambling for an arm.
Game Notes: I have to believe that Chris Britton, J.B. Cox and Mark Melancon will all soon be ahead of LaTroy Hawkins on the depth chart. If Britton isn’t, then someone on the Yanks should explain why. He’s no worse than Hawkins…Derek Jeter did not seem to be in this game tonight. He got picked off second with A-Rod up; he couldn’t get down a bunt; and that throw to the plate in the 11th ended up being costly as Aubrey Huff moved up to third base. Not the best stretch of games for Jeter in May this year. I wonder what’s up with him.