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'Purgatory Of Middle Relief' For Chamberlain

New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, of course, fielded lots of questions Monday night about bypassing Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning. 

He tried to diffuse the notion that Joba has lost the eighth-inning job.

"I think that would be a misinterpretation of tonight's events,'' he said. "I'm not saying I'm handing it over to Joba every time we go to the eighth. I'm gonna look at things. That's my job. I liked the matchup of Robertson versus Cabrera and I liked the matchup of Boonie against Choo.''

Sorry, Joe. Nobody's buying what you are selling. At the very least, everybody can see that you just issued the startlingly inconsistent Chamberlain a challenge.

Here is how Ben Shipgel of the New York Times summarized the situation.

What Girardi also did - perhaps intentionally, perhaps not - was issue to Chamberlain a not-so-subtle reminder that there are consequences for your actions.

Chamberlain has looked shaky in five straight outings, as well as throughout the season, and has an earned run average of 5.95. That is the second-highest E.R.A. among qualifying relievers in the American League; only his teammate Chad Gaudin (6.54) has fared worse.

The more Chamberlain struggles, the further he moves from his glorious 2007 season, which to Yankees fans might already seem longer than three years ago. The team has a lot invested in Chamberlain and is certainly not willing to give up on him. Girardi expressed confidence in Chamberlain, but it seems this much is clear: Before he gets his old job back, Chamberlain, like everyone else, needs to reprove himself.

Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York had this to say.

In the very ballpark in which he faced his postseason Waterloo on the infamous Night of the Midges back in 2007, Chamberlain faced another kind of exile -- to the purgatory of middle relief, the realm of the Chad Gaudins and the Sergio Mitres, the repository for pitchers a manager isn't quite sure what to do with.

I was actually glad to see the move. Not only because I thought it gave the Yankees their best chance to win a close game, but because I think Joba needs to be challenged.

To me, Chamberlain sometimes seems disinterested -- like he is out there but he isn't really into it. Maybe this will be a wakeup call for him.