The New York Yankees' Joba Chamberlain continued his development from rocket-armed reliever to prized starting pitcher on Monday night.
Chamberlain makes splash against Tribe
CLEVELAND // Joba Chamberlain continued his development from rocket-armed reliever to prized starting pitcher on Monday night, guiding the New York Yankees to a 5-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. The 23-year-old Chamberlain (3-1), who the Yankees hope will become the cornerstone of their pitching rotation for the next decade, went a career-high eight innings, retiring the first 11 batters he faced.
The Tribe's Victor Martinez broke Chamberlain's spell by homering in the fourth inning, but the right-hander still finished with impressive figures, giving up four hits and two runs, striking out five with a couple of walks. He also made a big defensive play in the fifth, coming off the mound and stretching out to catch Kelly Shoppach's popped-up bunt. He then threw to second base to complete the double play.
"It was quite a belly flop is the way I'd describe it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi joked on Chamberlain's athleticism. "It's an unbelievable play. It changed the game." Chamberlain, who in a 2007 relief appearance had been distracted by insects swarming the Cleveland mound, had no such trouble this time. Despite dozens of seagulls cruising the outfield and the pesky insects arriving late in the game, the right-hander controlled the Indians with his fastball, big-time curveball and an effective slider pitch.
"Hands down, that's the best I've ever seen him," New York's Nick Swisher, who drove in two runs, said of Chamberlain. Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth as New York completed a seven-game road trip with five wins and two losses. The American League East-leading Yankees were error-free for an 18th consecutive game, a Major League record. They were also given 11 walks by the Tribe's pitchers.
Swisher and Alex Rodriguez both drove in two runs in the key seventh inning ? Swisher breaking a 1-1 tie with a double to deep left, Rodriguez making it 5-1 with a single to left. Cleveland starter Jeremy Sowers pitched five innings before being replaced by Greg Aquino in the sixth after three consecutive walks. Aquino escaped that jam, but was not as fortunate in the seventh. After one out, he loaded the bases on three walks.
Swisher's double drove home two of the runners before Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked to load the bases once again. Luis Vizcaino came on to pitch, and Rodriguez, the first batter he faced, drove in two more runs with his single. "We just gave the game to them," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "I'm shocked they didn't score more runs." *Reuters