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Back in playoffs with Tigers, Joba Chamberlain surprised Yankees missed out again

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain #44 reacts

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain #44 reacts after hitting Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter with a pitch during the 10th inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Credit: Brad Penner

BALTIMORE - Joba Chamberlain said pitching in Detroit hasn't seemed all that different from his time in the Bronx.

"It's an organization that's created a winning dynamic," Chamberlain said in the Tigers' clubhouse on Wednesday on the eve of Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles. "Obviously in New York that's what was expected and that's what's expected over here as well. As far as that goes, not much has changed."

There is one major difference of late, of course.

The Tigers have advanced to at least the ALCS each of the last three seasons, while the Yankees have missed the playoffs two years running.

Chamberlain, who signed a one-year, $2.5-million deal plus incentives with the Tigers last offseason, said he was surprised to see his former team miss the postseason again.

"You look at the standings, there's standings everywhere you look at the [stadium] now, and they're 8½ back and you're like, 'Whoa,' '' said Chamberlain, noting the impact injuries had on the club a second straight year. "You can't take anything away from the Orioles and how they played this year but you look, it's weird to see New York not on top . . . But they're just too good not to make a good run next year."

The 29-year-old Chamberlain had a decent season as Joe Nathan's setup man, posting a 3.57 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 69 appearances , all while wearing a vicious beard that looks as if it could hide several nests of birds.

One of those appearances came last Thursday in a 4-2 win over the Twins, the same night of Derek Jeter's walk-off dramatics in his final Stadium game.

Chamberlain was icing his arm in the trainer's room after the Tigers' win, the Yankees game on a nearby TV. The reliever turned to Omar Vizquel, the longtime major-league shortstop now the Tigers' first- base coach.

"I said to Omar, 'He's going to end this game,' " Chamberlain said. "It had already played out in my mind what was going to happen."

Chamberlain said he spoke to the shortstop, still a friend from their days as teammates, by phone the previous day.

"The last sight of him ever at the Stadium is a single to rightfield to win the game?" Chamberlain said with a smile. "There's no other way it could have been written than to have Derek go out the way he did."

New York Sports