Joba Chamberlain seemed to be a man without a role when the spring started, but the hard-throwing right-hander has become the first part of the Yankees' game-ending formula this season, claiming the seventh inning as his own.
Chamberlain pitched a perfect seventh inning Monday night, handing the ball off to Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera to close out the Yankees' 4-3 win over the Twins. After the game, manager Joe Girardi officially tabbed Chamberlain as the seventh-inning specialist, moving Chamberlain ahead of fellow right-hander David Robertson in the pecking order.
"We love the way he threw the ball in spring training," Girardi said. "(Pedro) Feliciano is not healthy for us, and there might be situations where you'd bring both of them into an inning, Feliciano to face the lefties and Joba to face the righties. But Joba has the ability to get lefties out as well as righties."
Chamberlain has thrown two perfect innings in his seventh-inning role, allowing his lone run of the young season Sunday in a game the Yankees were already losing. With his fastball back in the 95-96 mph range, Chamberlain is beginning to resemble the flame-throwing phenom that took New York by storm in late 2007, something that has the Yankees very excited.
"The thing I take away from today is that Joba threw the ball extremely well," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "He pitched with a lot of conviction, his velocity was up, and he was predominantly all fastballs today."
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