OK, I know most of you are calling for Joba's head or Girardi's for sticking with Joba as the 8th inning guy. But, I want to take a little different view here. First, the Yankee offense simply needs to do more than score one run on a solo homer. They need to do more and I don't care who is on the mound. Felix was not that sharp that they couldn't get a couple of big hits rather than leave 2 guys on base all the time. Leaving a 1 run lead to the final 2 innings is going to fail sometimes and whether it was a Grand Slam or just 2 runs, it didn't really matter.
Before I get to Joba, I want to point out that Javy pitched a great game and he showed toughness getting out of the 7th (I was glad Joe stuck with him as a test even though many would have criticized Joe for keeping Javy in there too long) Javy's ERA is now a somewhat respectable 4.45. His last 11 starts have netted an ERA of 2.75!
As for Joba, I actually think he was not nearly as bad as the stat line shows. His command/control needs to be better, but he was throwing 96-97 on almost every fastball and actually hit 99 on the ground out by Ichiro. That is a good sign. Also, the first hit was located well and the guy hit it off the end of the bat for a bloop single. Then after he got Ichiro out, Chone Figgines broke his bat and dumped a single into LF. Two cheap hits with one out and Branyon stepped up. The count went 3-1 (which is Joba's fault with his command/control) and the runners moved up on a pitch Cervelli didn't catch, but could have. Still I blame Joba for the wild pitch/passed ball. Now with 2nd and 3rd and a 3-1 count Girardi called for an intentional walk of Branyan? I did not get this at all. Branyan is a huge strike out candidate and I would have let Joba either walk him himself or challenge him with his stuff. I didn't like the free pass as Branyan is not a singles guy anyway. He is pretty much a homer or an out. So after I didn't like that play (it also put pressure on Joba to HAVE to throw strikes), Joba started Lopez out with 2 sliders that both looked pretty good and neither was called a strike. This ump was really inconsistent all night and in review on MLB game day, they both hit the border of strikes with the first one looking like a solid strike (that is the way I had it live too). So, instead of at least 1-1 it was 2-0 and Joba had to throw a strike so Lopez was sitting fastball. Surprisingly, Joba threw a pretty high fastball (out of the strike zone)and Lopez was geared up for it and ready and jumped on it for the homer. It was a very good piece of hitting because while he knew it was coming, getting on top of a 96 MPH fastball that was very high is not easy to do.
I am not happy with the way Joba has pitched, but I think they need to keep using him in whatever role that makes sense based on teh options. Right now, Marte is the only other guy I have faith in the pen outside of Rivera, but the others are not doing well. We need Aceves back and possibly Mitre could help as well. Robertson should be able to make himself more relevant. I was not thrilled with getting Park, but his stuff could be good if he could be more consistent, but he has not even been close to being consistent and at this age can we expect that?
Some people have said after allowing the 2 singles Marte should have been in to face Branyan. I would not disagree with that move, with the expectation that Rivera would pitch the final 1.1 innings. However, considering the good velocity of Joba and both hits were real cheap, I understand Girardi sticking with Joba.
At the end of the day Joba did not have good control of his breaking pitches (his fastball control was average), but he was limited at that point. I still like his curve as a first pitch strike to get ahead of guys and also as a switch to the slider, but I am not giving up on Joba...he is the same age as Hughes.
Finally, some people have stated that Hughes will go to the pen for the playoffs or maybe he should go now. To that I say remember the postseason last year, Hughes was not very effective and Joba was better than he was. Leave Hughes in the rotation and let Joba pitch in whatever role makes sense based on who is doing better in the pen. Right now, Joba is still the best righty outside of Rivera. I hope Aceves can get his back straightened out or Cashman will need to get some support.
BTW, Cervelli's defense has really been poor lately. He has not thrown well at all and had an easy pickoff at 2nd base in the 7th inning that would have bailed out Javy, but he blew the throw. Pena saved Javy on the pop up to get the final out. He also has not thrown guys out well of late as his accuracy has been bad. The Yankee pitchers do a poor job of holding runners on, sans Pettitte, but Cervelli has only thrown out 5 runners out of 36, even Posada has thrown out 7 of 37, which is still not good.