"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

A Rule Meant to be Broken

The Yankees won another close one against the Jays on Sunday afternoon, 7-5. Mike Mussina was impressive again, Jose Molina had three RBI, and Joe Torre broke the so-called “Joba Rules,” as Chamberlain earned his first big league save.

It was a beautific afternoon at Yankee Stadiuma and the late afternoon shadows swept across home plate at a quarter to four. I love the way the light in September is different, deeper more mellowed, than the bright harsh light of March and April. Long, elegant shadows trailed the pitchers early in the game and it all looked great on the HDTV. (I tell you sports on HDTV is absolutely the greatest thing since sliced bread.)

In a playoff preview, Torre went to Chamberlain with two men on and two out in the eighth inning. You got to love Torre picking this spot to try the kid out because, rules be damned, you know that Joba is going to get the call in a couple of weeks. Torre isn’t the kind of guy who is going to pass on a sure-thing like Chamberlain in the playoffs. After all, Joba is the best young pitcher the Yankees have had since Mariano Rivera.

This is the first time Chamberlain has entered a game with runners on base and he struck Adam Lind out on five straight sliders. He got ahead 0-2 and then threw two more, both low and inside. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t throwing the fastball. Where’s the cheese, tough guy? So he throws him another slider, low in the dirt again, but Lind swings through this one to end the inning. How cocky can you get? 5 straight sliders. Onions.

With one out in the ninth, Chamberlain missed with a curve ball to pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay. He hasn’t thrown many curveballs–but it’s hard to forget the unfair one he dropped on Dustin Pedroia isn’t it? When Joba throws a curve it just feels like he’s toying with the hitters. Oh, the arrogance. It’s not fair for that guy to have a good curve.

Overbay whiffs and then Chamberlain K’s Reed Johnson on three consecutive fastballs to end the game. The YES cameras caught a great shot of Harlan Chamberlain, who actually does bear a liking to Jabba the Hut. A more affable Jabba. After the last out, he screamed and pumped his fist, a toothpick somehow not falling out of his large mouth in the process.

Mike Mussina gave up three runs in the second inning and worked out of trouble in the fourth, helped out by a favorable call at the plate to end the inning. Moose retired the last ten batters he faced and was as good as could have been expected. Good for career win #250. Something tells me Mussina will remember this one in years to come.

Molina, who helped get the favorable call in the fourth with a smooth bit of acting, had three hits, as did Robbie Cano. Bobby Abreu and Derek Jeter had two each and Alex Rodriguez walked three times. Dustin McGowan showed his good stuff but the Yankees made him work, and he labored, throwing 112 pitches through five.

Big win for the Yanks who move to a game-and-a-half behind the Red Sox, who lost in Tampa. The Tigers won, so New York’s magic number is two…wow, two–that…is a beautiful thing.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver