Joe Girardi has never been a Tony La Russa kind of guy, putting relievers in and yanking them out, playing the matchups and all that jazz. Mariano Rivera is his closer. Joba Chamberlain is his setup guy. Everyone else comes in as needed.
So it seems like a notable thing that Joba Chamberlain didn’t get the call in the eighth inning last night in a close game. Instead, after Javier Vazquez waked Michael Brantley to lead off the inning, Girardi went with Dave Robertson to face Asdrubal Cabrera and Boone Logan to face Shin-Soo Choo. Robertson induced a double play and Logan struck out Choo.
So, did Joba lose his job as the Yankees’ setup guy? Girardi isn’t having it:
“I don’t want to start a thing, ‘who’s our eighth inning guy?’ . . . I’m not saying that I’m handing it over to Joba every time we go into the eighth. I’m going to look at things. I mean, that’s my job. I liked the matchup of Robertson against Cabrera. And I liked Boone against Choo.”
Which makes some sense. Simply giving Joba a night off after a series of shaky appearances makes sense too. But this is New York, kiddos, and nothing is ever this simple, no managers’ explanation ever taken at face value. The Yankees are cruising right now — which is kind of boring — and as soon as A-Rod hits his 600th homer, the beat guys are going to need some red meat on which to chew.
Whether he meant to or not, Joe Girardi just gave them some in the form of Joba Chamberlain.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.