It seems every time you want to believe Joba Chamberlain has turned a corner and is close to being his old self in relief for the Yankees, he stumbles.
Chamberlain was clocked on one gun at 98 this past Thursday against Baltimore when he went 1 2/3, allowing no hits and no walks while fanning two. Then Saturday against Texas, he threw a scoreless inning with two more Ks.
Then came Sunday night’s seventh. CC Sabathia fanned the first batter and then departed with his 5-4 lead. Chamberlain came in and immediately walked Ian Kinsler. With two outs, Michael Young tagged him for the tying ground-rule double to right-center.
So Chamberlain is 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA over nine appearances and nine innings. He has been charged with five runs, four of them earned, and seven hits while striking out nine, walking three and hitting one. He has been charged with at least one run in four of his outings.
Still, before the Yankees’ 6-5 win Sunday night, Joe Girardi spoke about his seventh-inning guy’s improved velocity and stuff.
“I do think he’s throwing a little bit harder than he did last year out of the bullpen,” Girardi said. “I think his slider is much more consistent. It has more depth. He’s able to throw it for strikes, and I think that’s made a big difference as well. I also see a much better downhill plane from Joba. His mechanics seem to be a little bit more sound, and I think he has less question about them in a sense. And you’re seeing him make more quality pitches.”