Just two days ago, I wrote up a 14-strike out game tossed by Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. It was the first time in nearly two years that the Yanks had reached that lofty K plateau. Little did I know they would reach — and exceed — that level again less than 48 hours later.
Behind a strong, 100-pitch outing from Joba Chamberlain, four Yankee pitchers combined for a whopping 15 strike outs of the San Diego Padres. Joba started off the fun with 2 K’s in the first and hardly looked back. On the day, he threw a few too many balls (42) and issued a few too many walks (3), but in 5.2 innings, Joba struck out nine and gave up just four hits. Outside of a rough first outing, his transition into the rotation has been about as smooth as we could expect.
On the season, Joba has yet to pick up a win as a starter, but to anyone who follows the team, that matters very little. The Yanks are now 3-1 in Joba’s four starts, and the right-hander has thrown 18.1 innings while striking out 19. For all the analysts who said Joba couldn’t keep up his velocity and strike out totals, Chamberlain is doing a good job of proving them wrong so far.
Of course, it’s still early on in Joba’s career, and he’s still finding his way as a Major League starter. The walk total — 12 in 18.1 innings — is, point blank, unacceptable. It will get better.
After Joba’s departure, Jose Veras, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. The trio struck out six with Mariano Rivera’s continuing to utterly dominate the Padres. He faced San Diego three times this week and nailed down seven strike outs.
Offensively, the Yankees took advantage of the Padres’ weakness. While Josh Banks continued his stellar pitching this season, the Yanks exploited the Padres’ catchers. Melky Cabrera scored the Yanks’ first run of the game off a walk, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly. A Derek Jeter stolen base put him in position to advance to third on a Bobby Abreu ground-out and score on an A-Rod single. Who says the Yanks can’t run?
With that win, the Yanks win their seventh in a row. It is their longest winning streak since they won nine in a row against the White Sox, Pirates and Diamondbacks in June of 2007. The Yanks, it seem, love beating up those weak NL teams.
Riding high on a win streak and just 2.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks will meet the Reds, another last-place NL team, this weekend. Edinson Volquez and his sub-2.00 ERA go on Friday. The Yanks are finding ways to win big and small, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it.