Game 76: Back to the big boys’ leagueBy
After a 10-8 run through the National League — a run which, everyone must agree, could have and should have gone much better — the Yankees return home to get reacquainted with the American League, a/k/a the league with better teams. Surprisingly, there’s rain in the New York area. Boy, do we need it.
On the hill for the Seattle Mariners tonight is 24-year-old right-hander Brandon Morrow. He was the fifth pick of the 2006 draft, and the Mariners selected him ahead of hometown hero Tim Lincecum. While Morrow has considerable upside, there’s no doubt the team is kicking itself for that one.
Earlier this year, Morrow upset die-hard M’s fans by voluntarily moving to the bullpen. This was, both he and the team claimed, partly in order to better manage his Type 1 diabetes, with which he was diagnosed his senior year in high school. The Mariners moved Morrow into the closer’s role, where they believed he’d thrive.
The experiment started off well in general, though Morrow allowed three runs in his first appearance (0.2 IP). From there he tossed six innings of two-hit ball, allowing no runs. He then hit the DL on May 2, retroactive to April 24, with tendinitis in his right biceps. He returned on May 10, picking up his sixth save of the season despite allowing a run in the ninth. However, in his next two appearances he blew saves, both resulting in walk-off losses. Manager Don Wakamatsu removed him as closer the next day.
Morrow worked out of the bullpen after that, pitching mostly two-inning stints. He had his own degrees of successes and failures, but wasn’t remarkable in any way. This led Morrow to change his mind — he wanted another shot in the rotation. The Mariners planned to option him to AAA so he could stretch out, but an injury to Erik Bedard changed plans. Like the Yankees did with Joba Chamberlain, Morrow’s counterpart tonight, the Mariners put Morrow in the rotation with a pitch count. He worked up to five innings and 87 pitches last time out, allowing three runs to the San Diego Padres.
Yankees fans might remember Morrow from his first major league start last September, in which he held the team to one hit over 7.1 innings. He stumbled a bit after that, allowing six runs to both the Royals and A’s before season’s end. The Yanks will have a chance for payback tonight.
On the other end is Joba Chamberlain, a fellow 2006 draftee. Joba bookends the month, having started on the first against Cleveland. That was surely a game to remember. The Yanks could use another one of them tonight. He’s averaged a hair over six innings per start this month, which is okay but still not what they want to see out of Joba. A good sign: he walked none over 6.1 innings last time against the Braves. Keeping the walks down will be a big part of Joba’s development.
And on the mound, number sixty-two, Joba Chamberlain.
Rain, rain: It’s raining. We’ll see when this one starts.