Tempting as it may be after what he saw tonight, Joe Girardi isn’t ready to turn over the eighth-inning job to Joba Chamberlain.
“He was prepared as a starter so we need to get him back to relieving form,” Girardi said. “I’m not a guy that believes that can happen overnight. He threw back to back once in spring training so it takes time. And we want to be a little slow with him to make sure everything’s fine.”
Girardi’s playing it smart there – just as Sunday was too small a sample size to make any declarations about bullpen roles – tonight was one game as well.
But everything certainly looked fine with Chamberlain.
With Kevin Youkilis on second with one out, Chamberlain came on to face Adrian Beltre and struck out the third baseman with a 96-mph fastball. He then struck out J.D. Drew on an 86-mph slider, punctuating the K with a fist pump that is sure to get the talk shows in heat.
“You can’t go out there blow it out because you’re not going to be able to physically do it,” Chamberlain said of the increase in velocity he shows as a reliever. “You can’t be able to throw that hard for that long.”
As for his role, Chamberlain isn’t politicking for anything specific.
“From the sixth inning on I know I can pitch at any time,” Chamberlain said. “That’s enough to understand that when the sixth inning gets here, you see what situations come about and know you have to be ready from then on.”
And while Girardi isn’t anointing Chamberlain as the eighth-inning guy, he liked what he saw.
“It’s what we feel he can do,” Girardi said. “We feel he can pitch at a high level and we saw that tonight.”
*** Girardi used this word to describe this statistic two games in with Nick Johnson:
That’s because Johnson has no hits but an on base percentage of .500. He reached three times tonight, drawing two walks and getting hit by a pitch.
“Just try to get on there any way possible and let those guys behind me do what they do,” Johnson said.
“That’s why we went out and got this guy because he’s on base all the time,” Girardi said.
*** So far so good on Robinson Cano hitting in the five-hole. He homered in the ninth inning tonight and added a hit and a walk. He doubled twice in the opener.
“First two games, his approach has been outstanding,” Girardi said. “And actually maybe his approach has been more patient. Every RBI situation that he’s had, he’s done the job.”
Cano has three RBI.
*** Time of game Sunday: 3:46
Time of game tonight: 3:48
*** Mariano Rivera has now converted 60 of his last 64 save chances on the road. He’s allowed just seven earned runs in 56 games on the road since the start of the 2008 season.
*** With tonight's appearance by Rivera, he, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada became the first trio of teammates in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to play together in each of 16 straight seasons.