Joe Girardi had a decision to make last night: After seven and a half innings, the Yankees held a slim 3-2 lead thanks to Curtis Granderson and his rediscovered power stroke. Javier Vazquez had pitched well, but he’d worked into and out of a jam in the seventh and had thrown 96 pitches. In a perfect world, Joba Chamberlain, the alleged bridge to Mariano Rivera, would enter the game, but Chamberlain has been pitching himself out of that role for some time now, most recently Sunday afternoon, when he allowed a two-run home run to Scott Podsednik.
So Girardi brought Vazquez out to start the eighth, and one base on balls later, Vazquez was walking back to the bench, David Robertson was trotting in from the bullpen, and Chamberlain remained anchored to the bullpen bench. Perhaps this isn’t a permanent move — Girardi said only that “It was just what I decided to do tonight” — but it’s at the very least a message to Joba, and quite possibly a chance for Robertson to earn the job on a regular basis.
Robertson did his job last night, getting Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a double play. But he hasn’t yet been given full setup-man privileges: After his one batter, he was removed for lefty Boone Logan, who struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning.
Alex Rodriguez, still sitting on 599 home runs, went hitless, but so did most of the Yankees: They had just four hits in eight innings against Jake Westbrook. But they were the right kind of hits: Nick Swisher’s solo home run in the fourth tied the game at one, then Granderson’s two-run blast in the eighth gave them the lead for the first time. A lead that last night’s version of the bullpen was able to protect.