In the seminal 1980 film Airplane!, Steve McCroskey, played by Lloyd Bridges, bemoans his current predicament. “I picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue,” he says, later noting that he also quite amphetamines, drinking and smoking that week as well. Tonight’s Yankee game felt a bit like that.
Disaster struck for the Yanks in the fifth. Clinging to a 4-2 lead, Joba Chamberlain allowed a three-run home run to Michael Young. Josh Hamilton struck out, and Marlon Byrd singled. A few pitches later, Joba shook out his arm, and Joe Girardi and Gene Monahan came sprinting out of the dugout. Monahan would return with Joba in a tow, and the rest of the game unfolded as though through a fog as Yankee fans everywhere awaited the post-game interviews with baited breath.
Following the game, both Girardi and Chamberlain expressed optimism. While Chamberlain will head back to New York later today for an MRI and various other tests on the youngster’s arm, neither believed the injury to be serious. This doesn’t appear to be a labrum or a rotator cuff injury. It doesn’t seem as though Joba’s elbow was impacted either.
But right now, we don’t really know anything outside of the fact that right shoulder stiffness sent Joba packing tonight. We know Joba will probably not make his next scheduled start on Saturday, but beyond that, who knows? The Yanks tend to be cautious with their young guns, and considering what Joba can do and what a healthy Joba means to the Yanks, they are going to tread lightly with the righty. When the Yanks release more information, we’ll know what the short-term ramifications of this dismaying development mean for the Yanks.
Meanwhile, back in the game, the Yanks managed to stick around until the ninth inning when Joe Girardi once again left a reliever in the game for far too long. After falling behind 5-4, the Yanks tied the game on Xavier Nady’s third pinstripe home run. But the loss would fall squarely on the shoulders of his partner in trade, Damaso Marte.
After throwing an effective eighth inning, Marte allowed three walks and a walk-off grand slam to Marlon Byrd in the ninth. Marte now finds himself 0-1 on the Yanks with an 11.57 ERA. He’s doing a great job replacing Kyle Farnsworth.
But the fault hardly lies only with Marte. The grand slam came on Marte’s 42nd pitch of the night. The last time he reached such a lofty pitch count was on August 16, 2006 when the Pirates and Brewers played an extra-inning affair and Marte couldn’t buy a strike. Before that, he hadn’t thrown so many pitches since 2002. At some point, Joe Girardi has to go to the pen. I realize that Dan Giese is in pitching staff limbo and Mariano Rivera isn’t available, but to overtax relievers as Joe did tonight to Marte harkens back to the days of Joe Torre, Steve Karsay and Paul Quantrill.
In the end, tonight, the Yanks lost a chance to gain a game on both Tampa Bay and Boston. They may have lost their right-handed pitching stud too. This is indeed shaping up to be a bad week to stop sniffing glue.