07/30/08 7:40 PM ET
Abreu, A-Rod back Joba's strong start
Cashman completes deal for Pudge during series finale
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
It was a game that Brian Cashman didn't see much of, looking up only periodically to check the score while he worked on a deal to put 14-time All-Star Ivan Rodriguez in pinstripes. From the Yankees' point of view, their general manager missed a pretty good one.
"It was a big win for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Joba did a nice job giving us six strong innings, and we needed a win. We'd struggled against the Orioles and got back on track today. As the days tick away at home, these home games are very important for us."
The Yankees, it appears, have no intention of closing Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21 -- the date of their last scheduled regular-season game, also against the Orioles.
With Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, the Yankees have added a solid outfield bat in Xavier Nady, a trustworthy left-handed reliever in Damaso Marte and now Rodriguez, a name that Girardi called "the complete player" and expects to write in his lineup every day down the stretch, beginning with Thursday's series opener against the Angels.
With no inkling of the deal being worked on upstairs, Chamberlain took care of business on the mound. Making his first appearance since he bested the Red Sox in his finest starting performance to date, the hard-throwing right-hander limited Baltimore to two runs (one earned) over six innings to post his second victory in as many starts.
"Everything feels great, and the stamina and everything that goes along with it feels better," Chamberlain said. "They were aggressive early on fastballs and we just had to mix it up and throw stuff with a wrinkle in it, curveballs inside for strikes -- it gets them away from the fastball and allows you to throw the fastball away for a strike."
The 22-year-old scattered five hits while walking none and striking out six. New York has now won eight of Chamberlain's 11 big league starts, and Chamberlain (4-3) has limited his opponents to three runs or less in all of those outings.
"He knows how to pitch," Girardi said. "The young man is very mature for his age. He's been a big addition to our rotation. The way that our scouts and front office envisioned him, he's doing what he is supposed to do."
It was also a memorable day for Abreu, who hit a two-run homer off Orioles starter Dennis Sarfate in the third inning and also touched Francisco Cabrera for a solo home run in the seventh. On what was supposed to be half a day off for Abreu, serving as the Yankees' designated hitter, he had plenty of action -- and a few laughs, too.
The Yankees wasted little time putting runs on the board in support of Chamberlain, scoring a quick three-spot in the first inning. Rodriguez ripped a single to right that brought home Derek Jeter easily, and Nick Markakis' throw home sailed high and to the screen, allowing Abreu to round third.
With a nifty reach of his right hand around catcher Guillermo Quiroz, Abreu slid in safely, though Abreu never heard the call -- in fact, he popped up ready to argue with home-plate umpire Mark Wegner, who explained the play to Abreu, for the amusement of Jeter and those watching from the bench.
"We had a laugh about that," Abreu said. "I thought he was calling me out at first. I said, 'No! He didn't touch me!' Then he told me I was safe. When I got back to the dugout, everyone was laughing."
The Yankees found it easy to grin. Chasing Sarfate (4-2) from his first Major League start after four innings with five runs (three earned) on his ledger, New York piled on with four more runs in the sixth. Abreu opened the inning with a double and scored on Jason Giambi's run-scoring single.
Nady added an RBI ground-rule double to remove reliever Brian Burres, part of an afternoon that saw Nady notch two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored in his fourth game since joining the Yankees.
Right-hander Fernando Cabrera didn't fare much better than Sarfate or Burres; he walked Johnny Damon with the bases loaded and then threw a wild pitch to allow a ninth run home, then allowed back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning to Abreu and Rodriguez, the 541st of A-Rod's career.
Yet it wasn't all fun and games. The game included an ejection, as Edwar Ramirez was tossed after his first pitch of the seventh inning sailed high above Kevin Millar's head, earning an immediate thumb from Wegner. No warnings had been issued, but Wegner said that Ramirez intentionally threw behind Millar's head and that "we were here [Tuesday], so we know what's going on."
Girardi had expressed displeasure after Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera hit Rodriguez with a pitch on Tuesday and reiterated his stance before Wednesday's game, but insisted that Ramirez had done nothing wrong and hoped that there would be no suspension levied.
"We've been pitching Millar inside all day, and it's unfortunate that one got away, because you're not trying to hit anyone," Girardi said. "You move on."
Said Orioles manager Dave Trembley: "I thought if anyone was going to throw a pitch at us, it was going to come from Chamberlain and not Ramirez. It was as obvious as the nose on my face that he was throwing at Millar. But he has to do what he has to do to defend his team, and that's what he did."
Indeed, Ramirez reacted stoically to the ejection, walking toward the plate before leaving the field while Girardi protested. In a soft tone at his locker, Ramirez said he would apologize to Millar if he believed he was throwing at him intentionally.
"I really wasn't trying to hit him. Why? He didn't do [anything] to me," Ramirez said. "I understand what happened [Tuesday] night, but if Cabrera did it on purpose or something like that, that's Cabrera. I didn't want to hit anybody, especially in the head."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.