If you can’t stand (Joba) The Heat…

It was a nearly perfect day at the ballpark. I had a pair of tickets to Thursday afternoon’s Yankees-Sox game, so my cousin and I got to watch our Yankees shut out the Red Sox and complete the sweep.

After shooing some interlopers out of our seats and brushing off the pile of peanut shells they’d left all over the place, we settled into Section 57, row Z. I’ve only been to a few weekday day games, and I had never been in the bleachers at one, so I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The crowd was very mixed. There seemed to be a large number of out-of-towners (a few too many in from Boston for my taste), people just taking a day off, and a few people who had decided to…”pre-party”. A pair of the latter sat near us for a couple of tense innings, but managed to move along to somewhere else before getting ill, or ejected, or both. After that, everyone immediately around us was quite nice, even the Sox fans–I can respect a guy who shows up wearing a Yastrzemski shirt.


One of the first things we were greeted by when we arrived was fellow blogger Curt Schilling warming up in the Boston bullpen. It’s always interesting to watch another blogger at work. It was especially gratifying to watch him serve up a home run to Robinson Cano in the third inning:
And then again in the fifth:
IMG_6987.JPG copy

Aside from those two home runs, and three singles to Derek Jeter and one to Melky Cabrera, Schilling pitched quite well. In fact, it was a real pitchers’ duel, as Chien-Ming Wang, who got the start for the Yankees carried a no-hitter through 6 innings.
He did end up issuing four walks over 7 innings, but he also struck out 4 batters, including David Ortiz twice.

Things got kind of hairy in the seventh inning. Kevin Youkilis reached first on a throwing error by Derek Jeter, and then Mike Lowell singled, breaking up the no-hitter. The next batter, J.D. Drew grounded to third, and Alex Rodriguez attempted to tag Youkilis, and then threw to first to get Drew out. I say Alex attempted to tag Youkilis, because the Sox first baseman ran out onto the grass to attempt to avoid the tag, which should be an automatic out. At first the umpires didn’t call him out, but the Yankees appealed, and the correct call was made.
Neither Youkilis nor Francona liked that reversal very much, and Francona argued the point until he was ejected from the game. Between this and the uniform check, Terry must have been having a bit of a day. It was just as well, then, that he didn’t have a front row seat for the 8th inning.

The inning got off to a good start for us, because the man we’d all been hoping to see came in out of the bullpen:
Joba Chamberlain had worked an inning on Tuesday, which meant that, according to the “Joba rules”, he needed to take Wednesay off from pitching. He wasn’t as sharp as he’d been in previous outings. His control wasn’t quite as good, and he gave up a two-out double to Dustin Pedroia. He did get out of the inning without allowing a run, but the Yankees did get Edwar Ramirez started warming up during the bottom of the eighth.

Edwar had plenty of time to get warmed up, too. Hideki Okajima started the inning for the Sox, and the Yankees proceeded to blow the game open. He got Johnny Damon to fly out, but gave up a single to Derek Jeter, who ended the day 4-4.
Bobby Abreu then doubled Derek in all the way from first, leaving a base open.

The Red Sox then made the extremely questionable decision to intentionally walk Alex Rodriguez, setting up an epic battle of the Hidekis. The Sox lost that battle on a number of levels.
First, Bobby and Alex successfully attempted a double steal, causing Jason Varitek, the Sox catcher, to throw the ball away into left field. His throwing error allowed both of them to score (Alex scored standing up, all the way from first). Matsui followed that up by legging out an infield single, further exposing the folly of pitching around Alex to get to him. That was the end of the scoring for the afternoon, as a combination of Okajima and Snyder got Jorge Posada and Andy Phillips to ground out.

The game took another turn for the bizarre in the top of the ninth inning. Joba came into the inning, which was in itself a surprise, since his rules dictate a day off for each inning pitched. The first batter he faced was David Ortiz…
…who flied out to left in a most clutch-tacular manner.

Then Youkilis came up to bat, and the trouble started. I’m not sure exactly what happened here, both because my seats are about as far as you can get from the pitcher and home plate, and because I’m not a mindreader. What I do know, is that Chamberlain (who had been shaky in the 8th inning), with a 1-1 count, threw two consecutive pitches inside and way over the head of Kevin Youkilis. My cousin and I were actually worried that he might have been injured, to lose the plate so quickly, because there was no way that Torre would ever tell the 21 year-old future ace of the rotation to make a statement. But whether or not there was intent (and I actually personally doubt that there was), Angel Hernandez, the home plate umpire, ejected Chamberlain without a warning.

Chamberlain was replaced by Edwar Ramirez, for the final two outs of the game.
He nearly made things interesting by finishing walking Youkilis, and then allowing him to advance to third on two passed balls. He and Jorge did eventually get on the same page, though, in time to strike out Mike Lowell and get J.D. Drew to pop up, to end the game.

And there was much rejoicing, both on the field and in the stands.


This picture is in here as a bit of a photographic aside to another one of my fellow bloggers. Based on his attire alone, I would have pegged this man as a Sox fan. However, he cheered when the Yankees scored, and shook hands with the people around him after the game, which means that either looks are deceiving, or he’s such a good sport that he goes around congratulating the fans of the opposing team after they win. So it goes to show you that Yankee fans can be just as fond of vaguely unpalatable beverages as their Sox-loving counterparts.  Or that Moxie drinkers are incredibly polite.  One of the two.


3 thoughts on “If you can’t stand (Joba) The Heat…

  1. Hey. Excellent Blog. And that’s coming from a Sox fan lol. I’ve been intrigued by Joba. We had a similar situation in Boston when Papelbon came up 2 years ago and was a firecracker in the setup role in September, And from there gaining a closer role the next year and so on.

    Watching Joba I feel a lot of that closer mentality from him. I can see the Yanks wanting to secure a nice 1 2 with Hughs and Joba but I don’t see why you wouldn’t leave Joba as the apprentice to Rivera and have a 1-2 of Hughs and Wang and then grab a free agent starter in the next few years (Perhaps Santana). The way I saw it, a great closer effects your pennant race more than 1 great starter.

  2. Thanks. I’ve thought a lot about this, actually, and I think that Joba would be better off being given a shot as a starter next season for a number of reasons. First, he clearly has the “stuff” to start–he has enough different pitches, and was pretty dominant in the minor leagues, and given how fast he’s progressed, I think that will translate to major league success.

    Also, one of the (more painful) major take-home messages that I got from going to all the games I did this April is that you can have the best closer in the universe sitting in your bullpen, but if your starters can’t keep your team in the game to get to him, there’s really no way he can make a difference. If by some minor miracle you do need to give him the ball, he may be too rusty to be effective. Don’t get me wrong, the bullpen is very important too, but good starting pitching is what wins games and series.

    Lastly, and most importantly, I think that as young as Joba is, it’ll be better for his health if he starts and gets regular rest. I’ve been critical of the way the Sox have used/abused Papelbon, especially with regard to his breakdown last year. I seem to recall that they had plans to re-convert him into a starter to try to preserve his arm, but when all was said and done, he’s still closing, with all the wear and tear that that entails. Only time will tell if what they’re doing to him ends up shortening his career, and I don’t want that to happen to Joba (Deep down, I don’t want that to happen to Papelbon either, because it’s not nice to wish injury on people).

    A lot of people forget that before Mo was Mo, he was a failed starting pitcher. There are a few other candidates to follow in Mariano’s footsteps in the future (the Sanchez kid they got for Sheff this winter is one name I hear a lot, if the gets healthy), so there’s really nothing to lose by giving Joba a chance to be the future ace of our rotation. Whether he works out or not as a starter, it’s clear that he has what it takes to set up and/or close.

  3. what a fascinating game and thank you for edumacating me about a sport i enjoy on the side and am waay too uncoordinated to play (you hit, i’ll run. deal?)

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