Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just A Bruise

It could have been so much worse. Thank goodness it isn't.

Joba Chamberlain was hit with a drive on the right knee Thursday, tried to pitch through it, but ultimately had to leave the game.

But the way the Yankees are rolling, not even losing their starter two outs into the first is enough to derail them.

The Yankees scored four in the first, then Alfredo Aceves anchored a serviceable bullpen effort and New York won its ninth straight with a 7-4 victory over the Orioles at Yankees Stadium.

It is fortunate that the win did not come at a big price. X-rays on Joba were negative and he's listed as day-to-day. Joe Girardi said he hopes Chamberlain will be able to make his next start.

The night started well for Joba, striking out Brian Roberts, but Adam Jones followed with a shot back through the box that hit Joba square on the knee. Joba recovered to get Jones at first and tried to continue. But Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff followed with singles, and after Joba limped to back up third, Girardi decided to make the change.

It was a scene reminiscent of April 28, 2007, against the Red Sox. Starter Jeff Karstens took a shot to the leg off the bat Julio Lugo. Karstens actually pitched to two more batters but couldn't continue. Turned out he had a broken leg as was lost for several months. (Note: That game was Kei Igawa's lone highlight with the Yanks, coming on to pitch six scoreless innings for the win).

So as Chamberlain limped off the mound, the cause for concern was legit ... not just for the outcome of the game, but for Joba's health.

On this night, luck was with the Yankees.

While the news about Joba was great, the news from the bullpen was pretty good, too, even with Phil Coke unavailable and the Yankees being cautious with Brian Bruney.

Alfredo Aceves continued to deliver in every situation the Yankees call upon him. He pitched 3-1/3 scoreless, picking up this third victory in this winning streak. If Joba can't go Tuesday at Texas, is there any reason not to have faith that Ace will step in and do more than a credible job?

Jonathan Albaladejo followed with 2-1/3 allowing four runs. He has options remaining, so don't be surprised if the Yankees send him down when Chien-Ming Wang, who will make another rehab start Friday for Scranton, comes back.

Surprisingly, Jose Veras pitched 1-2/3 inning without allowing a run before Mariano Rivera closed it out with his ninth save.

But what helped most was the early outburst by the offense, scoring four runs on four doubles in the first. Melky Cabrera had the big blow, driving in two with two outs.

Robinson Cano added a two-run shot in the second and Hideki Matsui a solo shot in the fifth and win No. 9 was within reach.

Now things get interesting with the Phillies coming to town. Is No. 10 on the horizon, or have the Yankees just been feeding on the weakest of the weak? We'll find out.

Runners In Scoring Position
Thursday
4-for-7 (.571)
Season
99-for-365 (.271)

Up Next
Friday vs. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., YES
Brett Myers (3-2, 4.50 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (2-1, 5.02)

Win No. 10 rests in Burnett's hands as the defending world champions visit the stadium. Burnett was terrific in his last out, but took a no-decision. The Phillies lead the NL East, but have not pitched particularly well. Entering Thursday, they had a 5.34 ERA, which ranked 27th in the league. This series has the potential to be a slugfest.

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