June 2008

Didja hear?!

NEW YORK — Joba Chamberlain is starting! Did you hear?! Yeah, he was in the bullpen for the Yankees and now he’s starting. Cool, huh? Isn’t it awesome? No, I’m not making it up. I’m serious. It’s the greatest thing ever…

Well, that’s what it felt like picking up any of the newspapers here in NYC today. Holy Hype, Batman. Talk about going a bit Joberboard with a story. See what I did there? But, hey, it’s nothing new here in the Apple. What would be a minor deal elsewhere becomes a big deal around here, especially when the Yanks are involved.

“That’s just New York,” Jays skip John Gibbons said. “They hype everything. It’s always been that way here and over at Shea and everything. That’s why it’s such a unique and exciting place to go to. There’s always something going on.”

Someone asked if facing Joba amidst all the hype could be something that adds some extra motivation for Jays ace Roy Halladay (Remember him? He’s starting tonight, too, apparently, though I couldn’t find a Toronto pitcher listed anywhere in the papers out here).

“He may not even know who’s pitching tonight,” Gibbons said with a laugh. “He’s so locked in.”

The Jays are just hoping Joba doesn’t go all Shaun Marcum on them, throwing a no-hitter until his 65-70 pitch limit kicks in (see Jays vs. Rays on May 13, 2007). Hey, at least Toronto doesn’t have to face Chamberlain’s 99-mph heater in the eighth inning before possibly having to take on Mariano Rivera.

“We’re not going to miss him in that eighth inning, I’ll tell you that,” Gibbons said. “We know going in that he’s on a pitch limit, so hopefully we can kick that up on him pretty quick — get him out of there and get to their bullpen.”

Their bullpen sans Joba, of course.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (31-28) at NEW YORK (28-29)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium

Shannon Stewart, LF
Marco Scutaro, 2B
Alex Rios, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Matt Stairs, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Brad Wilkerson, RF
David Eckstein, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (6-5, 2.93)

Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Jason Giambi, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jose Molina, C
Melky Cabrera, CF

PITCHING: RHP Joba Chamberlain (1-2, 2.28)

Is it a sign?

ANAHEIM — It’s been well documented that Jays starter A.J. Burnett has adopted “Hangin’ Tough” by the New Kids on the Block as his new pregame warm-up music. He even went as far as saying it was because Toronto has, in fact, been “Hangin’ Tough” lately.

Well, I was riding the elevator down from the pressbox to the clubhouse this morning, and — on the very day that Mr. Burnett is taking the hill for the Jays — I heard that familiar “Oh oh OH OH oh!” of the other famous New Kids tune, “The Right Stuff.”

If Burnett throws a no-no, we’ll know why.

Some actual news: Jays skip John Gibbons said CF Vernon Wells has already started swinging a bat down in Florida, where he’s rehabbing his broken left wrist. That seems to be ahead of schedule and Gibbons said Wells (injured on May 9) is hoping to return on the early side of the 6-8 week timetable he was told his comeback would require.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (31-27) at LOS ANGELES (33-24)
at 3:35 p.m. ET at Angel Stadium

David Eckstein, SS
Marco Scutaro, 2B
Alex Rios, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Brad Wilkerson, RF
Kevin Mench, DH
Joe Inglett, LF

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (5-5, 4.57)

Maicer Izturis, SS
Gary Matthews Jr., RF
Garret Anderson, LF
Vladmir Guerrero, DH
Torii Hunter, CF
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Mike Napoli, C
Brandon Wood, 3B
Sean Rodriguez, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Jon Garland (5-3, 3.89)