Clearly, this was not a night for the first string. The closer wasn’t available. A young long man was making a spot start. The Yankees had rookies starting at second base, right field and catcher. It was a night for the second string, and so Joba Chamberlain made, perhaps, his final Yankees appearance.
“If I had the answer (for inconsistencies), I wouldn’t have thrown as (poorly) as I have been,” Chamberlain said. “Honestly, it’s just, you’ve got to be out on the mound. I haven’t pitched good enough to be out on the mound sometimes. When you get a chance you have to take advantage of it. Sometimes I have and sometimes I haven’t. I just wasn’t very consistent. That’s due to me not being consistent and being able to throw the ball and get outs when I needed to.”
If this was the end for Chamberlain, it was one more frustrating outing — three of four batters reached, two inherited runners scored — in a Yankees tenure that seemed bound for greatness, and settled into mopup duty.
“He’s been through a lot,” Joe Girardi said. “The injury to his ankle, and he started out pretty good this year and then had the rib cage injury and never really got back on track for us. It’s tough because I think he’s better than what he pitched, but he struggled.”
Chamberlain said he hasn’t thought about this being his final Yankees appearance, but with only two games left, it seems reasonable to think it might have been. He’s heading for free agency, and it’s hard to imagine either side — the player or the team — being interested in a reunion.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” Chamberlain said. “I’m just trying to enjoy these last few days with these guys, and enjoy my son being here, and just try to finish strong. I really haven’t thought about it. I probably won’t think about it until it’s over. That’s it, just going to enjoy the last couple of days we have together and go from there.”
• It seems possible — but far less certain — Mariano Rivera is also finished for the year. According to Girardi, Rivera said pregame that he wasn’t available to play tonight. Girardi will ask again tomorrow, and again the next day. “I’ll see what he wants to do,” Girardi said. “I’ll check with him every day. He has a chance to make up his mind every day. … He just said he wasn’t available, so I said OK. At this point, I’m not going to question him.”
• The Houston crowd booed when Dave Robertson, not Rivera, came in to close the win. “I did not take any of the boos personally,” Robertson said. “I can understand why the fans really want to see Mariano. The final three games, fans are hoping to see him pitch again. We’ll see what happens.”
• Even in a meaningless game, good practice to get a save situation? “Definitely, I think so,” Robertson said. “It’s just like the eighth inning; you have to get three outs and not let anybody score, especially in a (one-run) game like tonight. I very easily could have made a mistake and they could have tied it up. I was fortunate tonight.”
• Also a strong, positive outing for Adam Warren, who finished his rookie season with his third win of the year. He went five scoreless innings, going beyond his expected 50-pitch limit. “He breezed,” Girardi said. “He got through the first four innings pretty easy so we decided to let him go back out. We checked with him and he said he felt fine. … Very pleased with the step that he took forward this year, and for him, he needs to build on it.”
• Warren on his start: “I felt like I was just getting ahead in the count, going as hard as I could, as long as I could, and just trying to leave everything out there. … For me, it’s just making sure I’m comfortable out there. Like I said, I’ve kind of proven myself, so I can go out there and be comfortable and not worry about, ‘what if I give up a hit here,’ that sort of thing. Just kind of pitch to my game.”
• Given the number of starting pitchers heading to free agency, Warren could be a David Phelps-type this spring, getting a look as either a back-of-the-rotation starter or a second-year long man. “I feel like my stuff has gotten better,” he said. “Just through some work, getting in games, seeing what does work and what doesn’t work. I felt like, as far as being smart about what pitches to throw, I feel like I’ve learned a lot this year as far as learning how to pitch, and that my stuff’s gotten a little bit better.”
• David Adams had a two-run double in the fourth inning, the big hit of the night. It was his first big league hit since July 26, when he also had two RBI. “I thought he did a really good job too,” Girardi said. “For a guy who hasn’t had a lot of playing time and hasn’t really had any at-bats, it was a huge hit and he made some good defensive plays too. Turned the double play well. We weren’t able to convert it, but it was good to see.”
• In a fairly understated mid-game ceremony, the Astros presented Andy Pettitte with a framed Astros jersey from his time with the team. “It was great,” Girardi said. “Andy’s from here. He had some important years here. So I thought it was great that he was recognized, and tomorrow should be special.”
• Let’s give the final word to Jorge Posada. … Through a series of text messages with media relations director Jason Zillo, Posada left a message for Rivera last night and the Yankees shared that message today: “Please make sure that Mariano knows that I want nothing more than to be there with him (last night),” Posada said. “I was crying at home with him. There will never be another Mariano Rivera. He was a friend and a champion of a teammate. He really cared about about the game of baseball, the way it was played, and whatever it took to win that night.”
Associated Press photos