Hot Joba, bats give Yanks eighth straight
Chamberlain pitches seven-plus innnigs of two-hit ball
NEW YORK -- Joba Chamberlain whirled off the mound, spinning his right leg toward the Yankees' dugout and rapping his knuckles against his ribcage before unleashing a primal scream into the evening air.
That familiar sight was back again, and the Bombers have absolutely no problem watching it. Chamberlain two-hit Oakland into the eighth inning and New York rolled to its eighth straight win, an 8-3 decision on Friday at Yankee Stadium.
"I think emotion is real important to him," said manager Joe Girardi. "There has been discussion about his emotion. I don't ever think Joba is showing anyone up. I think he feeds off his own emotion when he gets big outs. I believe that emotion makes him a better pitcher."
With the Yankees on their way to setting a high-water mark of 22 games over .500, the 23-year-old right-hander had his biggest moment to celebrate in the fifth inning. Chamberlain challenged himself to get out of a self-created mess, courtesy of two walks and a wild pitch.
Snapping a filthy slider to whiff Mark Ellis for the second out of the inning, Chamberlain began barking on the mound to pump himself up, then blew another slider by Eric Patterson to end the frame and record the last of his six strikeouts.
"I'm just having fun and getting back to being myself," said Chamberlain, who won his third straight decision. "I've got faith in my teammates, and I've got faith in myself. We work so hard for a reason. It's going back to having fun and doing what you have to."
The Yankees won't complain about Chamberlain's pizazz as long as the dominance continues. He limited the A's to a run on two hits before leaving to a standing ovation after facing two batters in the eighth inning and leaning on Phil Coke and Dave Robertson to finish up.
"It's turning it up a notch sometimes," Girardi said. "Guys have the ability to turn it up a notch. We've seen our pitchers be able to do that. You really have to lock into what the situation is and what you need at that moment."
Everything seems to be clicking for Chamberlain since he spent the All-Star break chilling out in Nebraska. Pitching coach Dave Eiland has worked with Chamberlain about adjusting his tempo on the mound, as he tended to stall with runners on base and lull his defense to sleep.
Chamberlain also seems to be working well with catcher Jorge Posada, who is trying to speed up the pace by putting down signs more quickly. Chamberlain and Posada clashed at times earlier in the year because of numerous shakeoffs, but the battery seems to have found common ground.
"I think it goes unspoken," Chamberlain said. "I was actually talking to CC [Sabathia] when I was done, and he was saying the same thing. We're so on the same page that I already know what he's going to call before he calls it. That goes a long way to being comfortable and staying in a rhythm."
Walking three during his 100-pitch (56 strikes) outing and taking advantage of an A's club that had dealt Matt Holliday to the Cardinals earlier in the day, Chamberlain did not allow a hit after Ryan Sweeney's second-inning single, a span of 20 batters faced.
"I thought he threw the ball well," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He was pitching hard inside and soft outside. That's the book on pitching. It's always going to be tough on the hitters when a pitcher is doing that."
It is a long way from last September, when Posada publicly said that he didn't think Chamberlain could cut it as a starter.
"He's changed my mind. He has," Posada said. "He's pitched very good for us. It's a guy who's throwing 95 or 96 mph, and has a very good curveball and slider. He's working on his changeup still, but he really changed my mind."
Looking for its 21st win in 26 games, New York got to Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson for four runs in 6 2/3 innings before four eighth-inning runs turned the game into a laugher.
Derek Jeter and Melky Cabrera each had three hits, with Johnny Damon driving in three runs. Posada belted his 13th homer in the eighth to start New York's four-run frame.
"We're getting some timely hits and scoring some runs," Jeter said. "But you just want to take it day by day. We're not coming in saying, 'We have a streak.' You just want to do what you can do that particular day."
Not only did the Yankees complete HOPE Week in the Bronx, their groundbreaking community-service initiative, just as important, they remained undefeated coming out of the All-Star break.
Good karma from assisting numerous functions in the New York area could be a popular explanation for the success, but the success of the starting pitching would be more accurate.
New York's starting pitchers have gone 6-0 with a 2.35 ERA (53 2/3 innings, 14 earned runs) in the eight games of the winning streak, holding opponents to three earned runs or fewer in each outing.
For his part, Chamberlain is just happy to keep the line moving.
"It's fun to be with these guys, to go out and try to one-up the person before," Chamberlain said. "I think that's going to be great for us down the road. We feed off each other's energy and work.
"It's been fun to ask these guys questions, because they've been so successful, and for a young guy, I couldn't ask to have anything better around me."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.