Last night, Andy Pettitte turned in his third straight quality start, the Yankee offense scattered four runs against Jeremy Guthrie and company, and Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera, likely appearing as a relief tandem for the last time, combined to nail down the Yankees' win.
The first two batters Pettitte faced reached base, but Andy wiggled out of the jam. In the top of the second, Hideki Matsui doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch, and Jason Giambi miraculously hit a groundball RBI single through the right side of a drawn-in and shifted infield that had three men lined up on the edge of the grass between first and second base.
In the third, Melky Cabrera led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout, but Derek Jeter struck out and Bobby Abreu was unable to pick his captain up. Brian Roberts began the bottom of the third with and infield single and Melvin Mora made it count with a two-run homer off Pettitte, but Giambi evened things up with a 410-foot shot to Eutaw Street (his second plaque-worthy shot in as many days) with two outs in the top of the fourth.
In the fifth, Jeter made up for his missed opportunity earlier in the game by hitting a sac fly to plate Cabrera from third with one out following another Melky double advanced by a Damon hit. Roberts doubled in the bottom of the inning, but Andy Pettitte picked him off second, catching him cold a third of the way off the bag. That was the key play in the game as the Yankees never relinquished their slim 3-2 lead.
Chamberlain came on with two out and none on in the seventh to face Mora, who had a bunt single, a homer, and a walk against Pettitte to that point. Mora singled off Chamberlain, and Joba walked Nick Markakis to put the go-ahead run on base, but he settled down from there, striking out Kevin Millar and cruising through the eighth with two more Ks.
The Yankees added a run in the ninth, which made the decision to leave Chamberlain in to finish the game seem like an obvious one given that he was scheduled to throw 55 pitches and had thrown only 28, but Joe Girardi proved he's a slave to the save and brought in Mariano Rivera the day after his 31-pitch outing on Wednesday night.
Not that it was a terrible call, just a needless one. Mo pitched around an Alex Rodriguez error for a scoreless ninth to nail down the win, and Chamberlain finished his work in the bullpen, throwing 14 pitches, sitting to simulate an inning break, throwing pre-inning warmups, then finishing with 13 pitches to hit his 55-pitch goal.
It was a quick and easy game that helped the Yankees avoid embarrassment and head into their off day and trip out to Minnesota with a good feeling. All decisions on Joba's next appearance and exactly who will replace Ian Kennedy in the rotation early next week remain to be made. It was just a good, solid 4-2 win in which nothing went wrong and no one got hurt.