Yesterday, Phil Hughes returned to Texas, the site of his best pro start to that point. His no-hitter came undone because of the hamstring injury he sustained while trying to bury a two-strike curveball to Mark Teixeira. That was May 1, 2007. One year, three months, and three days later, Joba Chamberlain exited a game at the very same ballpark. As Hughes made his return to Rangers Ballpark yesterday, so does Joba today.
Unlike Phil’s previous start at Rangers Ballpark, Joba wasn’t pitching so well at the time of injury. He had surrendered five runs, including two homers, in 4.2 innings of work before calling out the trainer to examine his shoulder. He started one game against them at the Stadium last year, lasting only four innings because of a high pitch count (91). He’ll look to reverse all that tonight.
Opposing him will be Kevin Millwood. The 34-year-old is having his best season since the one which landed him his current contract. He’s sporting a 3.12 ERA over 66.1 innings, and he’s doing it while striking out two fewer batters per nine innings than he has over the past four years. The difference between this year and the last two has been fewer hits allowed. He allowed over 11 per nine innings in 2007 and 2008, and it led to ERAs over 5.00. This year he’s down to 8.0 per nine, which is right in line with his career numbers. Tonight he’ll face a Yankees lineup which has not been short on hits lately.
Despite his poor season, Millwood pitched well in his one start against the Yankes in 2008, allowing just one run over five innings while striking out six. In 42.1 career innings against the Bombers he’s allowed 24 runs, 21 earned, while striking out 37 and walking just 10. He’s also 113.2 innings away from locking in his $12 million salary for 2010. Since it’s doubtful any team will pony up $12 million for a 35-year-old who has recently battled with injuries, I’m figuring Millwood really, really wants to reach the 180-inning milestone.
And on the mound, number sixty-two, Joba Chamberlain
Update 8:59 p.m.: Sounds like the rain/hail is about to hit Arlington. This is a fast-moving storm system, and I would eye a 9:45 or 10 p.m. ET first pitch. We’ll update this post when we know what time the game is set to start.
Update 9:55 p.m.: First pitch is set for 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. We’ll have a fresh thread up in a few minutes.