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It was the perfect game for Joba Chamberlain to make his return to the Yankees.
Chamberlain last appeared in a Yankees game on July 5, 2011 before heading off to have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, an injury that was expected to keep him out into this season. His wait got even longer after surgery to repair an ankle injury suffered while playing with his son on a trampoline.
He made it back, though, and he got the call to start the seventh inning with the Yankees leading 11-1. Chamberlain didn't pitch particularly well -- two runs in 1.2 innings that revealed very little sharpness on his pitches, although his velocity was good -- but the fact that he was back was triumph enough for the first day.
The team is clearly viewing Chamberlain as a pseudo trade deadline acquisition for the bullpen, an arm that can help them down the stretch and didn't cost a thing to acquire. Chamberlain will have to be better for that to come to fruition, but he certainly isn't any worse than Chad Qualls, the man he replaced in the bullpen.
It would be nice to get Chamberlain more pressure-free outings to shake off the rust, something that will require his teammates to play as well as they did to snap a four-game losing streak in Wednesday's 12-3 victory. For the second straight game, the Yankees jumped out to an early lead and asked their starting pitcher to make it stand up.
Ivan Nova couldn't do it Tuesday, but Phil Hughes had no such problems. He wasn't dominant, but Hughes showed the knack for pitching out of trouble that he's been flashing over the last couple of months that have restored his status as a pitcher with a future in the Yankees rotation.
It didn't feel that way last year and didn't feel that way early this season when every threat turned into a big inning for the opposition when Hughes was on the mound. Hughes battles now, something that serves him well on the days when his best stuff isn't forthcoming.
The offense's best stuff was in full view. An early homer for Curtis Granderson, a late grand slam by Robinson Cano, three more hits for Derek Jeter and the first Yankee RBI for Casey McGehee were some of the highlights in an effort that extended much further into the game than Tuesday's five runs in the first followed by eight innings of futility.
Get enough nights like that and Chamberlain should have plenty of opportunity to pitch himself back into shape. It probably won't play out exactly that way, but there are certainly worse places to start.
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