String of relievers falter in loss to Jays

String of relievers falter in loss to Jays

NEW YORK -- Somewhere between the expectations, the anticipation and the letdown, there was a baseball game.

That didn't go as planned, either.

Long after Joba Chamberlain had left the mound and long after the last of manager Joe Girardi's relievers had followed him, the Yankees were still scratching their heads over their latest loss, a 9-3 defeat to the Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Perhaps, had they employed a starting pitcher capable of lasting a bit deeper into the game, they might not have had to deal with so many new problems. Or perhaps, had they had Chamberlain available to pitch late in the game, they might have went about their business with a different sort of plan.

But the wheels were in motion, and Chamberlain was starting the game.

He didn't come close to finishing it.

"We're through with that discussion," Girardi said of the decision to move Chamberlain into the rotation. "We're moving forward now."

And so Chamberlain began this game, threw his allotted pitches -- 62 of them -- and left after retiring seven Blue Jays in all. Twenty outs to go.

In came the relievers -- Dan Giese, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, LaTroy Hawkins and, finally, Chris Britton at the end. All five of them pitched into trouble, and most of them could not pitch out of it. Thrust into a different sort of situation with Chamberlain lasting only 2 1/3 innings, these relievers could not patch together a win.

"We have long men for a reason," Chamberlain said. "I understand that I have so many pitches, and that's why I'm so frustrated with the fact that I didn't get us deep into the game today. We have a lot of great arms down there. When you give the ball to them, you have the utmost confidence in them. They did a great job today and a few balls here and there -- a pitch here or there -- and it's a different ballgame."

Though Chamberlain indirectly created this mess, the major trouble -- the kind that causes teams to lose -- occurred well after he left Tuesday night's game. Giese allowed his inherited run to score, and later allowed another to give the Blue Jays the lead.

But the Yankees were still very much in the game until the seventh, when Veras, Ramirez and Hawkins gave up enough walks and hits for the Jays to parade around the bases, and thrust any chance at a New York victory well out of reach.

Veras began the inning, allowing two straight Jays to single. Ramirez followed him, serving up one more hit and three walks. Then Hawkins entered, with three Jays on base, and allowed each of them to score.

"Bad outing, bad inning," Veras said. "Everyone's trying to get the job done, trying to get their batters out."

Yet trying and doing are two different things.

"We tried to get the job done," Veras said. "We tried to keep the came close, like we're supposed to do, like we've done before. It's just today we didn't do it, so that's why we lost the game."

Combined with the three walks Chamberlain allowed in his 2 1/3 innings, the Yankees issued 10 free passes in all. Rarely a recipe for success.

"The walks were what really killed us tonight," Girardi said. "Their first two runs were walks, and then we had four walks in the seventh inning, and it killed us."

Not helping, of course, was the fact that the Yankees could muster little off Jays starter Roy Halladay. Johnny Damon tripled to lead off the game and later scored, with Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi each driving in runs in the first. The Yankees grabbed another run in the seventh -- after Halladay left the game -- but that was the sum of it.

They could do nothing else, and in the final three innings, were pushing against far too large of a deficit.

All of it, however, was overshadowed by Chamberlain. Win or loss, like it or not, this game was going to be judged on how well Chamberlain pitched. And there were high points -- his jam in the first inning could have been far worse -- but there were low points, too. Chief among them being the loss.

"Only time will tell," Girardi said of Chamberlain's plan. "This is a long process. There are a lot of young kids in our bullpen that don't have a lot of experience. You see how they do over the long haul. You don't make an evaluation in a two-week period."

Even when it's tempting to do just that.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.