"You gotta attack all the time," [Joba Chamberlain] said in a contrite tone. "You can't take a pitch off. You never think you're doing that, but you should attack more with the fastball. I didn't attack the zone as much as I should have." (John Harper, N.Y. Daily News)
Joba Chamberlain's face was puffy and sweaty, his eyes glassy and red-rimmed. His head had just been in his hands, his fists balled, grabbing at his cropped hair. A white towel hung over his head and his large chin jutted up. Sitting on the bench, it looked as if he was going to burst out bawling and for the first time her truly looked like Joba the Hutt. I thought about Chamberlain's father, Harlan, who has been ill this spring. I thought about how he had just shook his catcher off several times. Then I thought, dag, this has never happened to the kid before.
"Everybody gets tested in this game," said David Cone on the YES broadcast. "Nobody is invincible. We knew this would happen sooner or later. The real test is in how he'll react next time out."
Pinch-hitter Dave Dellucci turned around a 96 mph fastball from Chamberlain and yanked it into the seats in right field, dealing Chamberlain his first ego-crushing blow in the big leagues. Not his first lost, but the first big blast. There were no midges this time. Everything was set up according to plan. Pettitte kept the team in the game, Farnsworth got two big outs in the seventh and Chamberlain came on in the eighth with a one-run lead. As Cone noted, Chamberlain didn't necessarily make a bad pitch, it's just that Dellucci guessed right and beat him to the spot like a basketball player running to a place on the floor, setting his body and picking up an offensive foul.
It was reminiscent of George Brett turning around the Goose's high heat though not as dramatic. Dellucci, who was briefly a Yankee, and who still uses the theme from "The Godfather" as his intro music, smiled broadly as he was greeted by his teammates. If I could sit on my ass all night, then come off then bench and turn around Kid Dynamite's heater like that, hell, I'd be grinning too.
Chamberlian's outing started poorly when he walked Grady Sizemore on a 3-2 slider. Joba shook off his catcher Jose Molina twice to get to his breaking pitch. With one out, he issued another walk, this time to Jhonny Peralta. But, Cone added, it was an "unintentional intentional walk," as the Yankees were not going to go after Peralta, who had homered earlier against Andy Pettitte. Molina came out to the mound several times, there was also a meeting with the pitching coach, and Chamerlain threw more curve balls than usual.
It was a humbling moment for the dynamic young Chamberlain but one where Cone, who is starting to find a rhythm as a color man, rose to the occasion. Cone's voice is raspy but not deep or commanding. At first, it is flat and indistinguishable from that of John Flaherty or Al Leiter. Cone seemed ill-at-ease initially, unpolished. But I've found his insights to be sharp and compelling--he was all over Pettitte in Cleveland for telegraphing a change up that was rocked for a home run. Not in a critical beatdown way, just as an observation. I think Michael Kay deserves some credit for guiding Cone and breaking him in.
When Kay reported Ian Kennedy's impressive line from his triple A start, Cone said that IPK got the message. That turned out to be the best news on a night where the Yanks lost, 5-3. Again, it was a game that appeared to be drawn up perfectly. Only this time, Joba stumbled and so did the Yanks.