Yankees get the motor going in Detroit

April 29, 2009 10:22:07 PM PDT
Joba Chamberlain showed the stuff that makes the New York Yankees want to keep him in the rotation. Chamberlain gave up a run in seven innings and got plenty of support from Nick Swisher's two homers in New York's 8-6 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.

"We'll debate this forever, but this is what we think he can give us as a starter," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Chamberlain (1-0) gave up three hits and three walks while matching a career high for innings pitched. He looked comfortable as a starter after beginning and ending last season as a reliever, winning his first game since July 30, 2008.

The hard-throwing right-hander was at his best after Swisher's three-run homer and Hideki Matsui's two-run double in the seven-run fourth gave him a cushion.

"After the third inning, I said, `Enough is enough,"' Chamberlain recalled. "They've got a great lineup and I knew I had to get things under control, so I really started to attack."

The Yankees might've found their groove in the Motor City.

"All cylinders were clicking," Swisher said.

New York won two straight in Detroit by a combined score of 19-6 after losing the series opener and three in a row at Boston for a season-high four game skid.

Besides the recent results on the field, the Yankees got some good news from their minor league complex.

Three-time MVP Alex Rodriguez could rejoin them within 10 days, according to the doctor who operated on his hip, well ahead of his May 15 target date.

"Are we starting to get excited? Yes," Girardi said. "He's taken several steps this week and not had any setbacks."

Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming Wang was scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday and to pitch in an extended spring training game on Saturday.

"It's only going to get better when we get Alex back and Wang back," Swisher said. "If we can keep getting this pitching and hitting, it's going to be a fun year."

Swisher, acquired in November from the Chicago White Sox, has hit a team-high seven homers to help the Yankees, who are a game over .500 so far.

"You wonder what our record would be without him," Girardi said. "He's the reason we emphasized depth so much. We wanted to have guys like Swish that could get hot and really help us. He's been hitting the ball, and tonight he was diving all over the place on defense."

Swisher became the 10th player in team history to hit a homer from both sides of the plate in one game.

"That's awesome," he said.

Rick Porcello (1-3) allowed a season-high six runs, six hits and three walks while lasting a season-low 3 2-3 innings.

"I've got to be better," Porcello said.

Placido Polanco's sacrifice fly in the third was the only run the Tigers scored against Chamberlain, and manager Jim Leyland was disappointed they didn't score more because Miguel Cabrera ended the inning with a strikeout.

"I always feel like a million dollars when Cabrera is up, particularly with men on base," Leyland said. "But you have to give Chamberlain credit, he threw a nasty hook."

After Phil Coke pitched a perfect eighth, the Tigers chased Jonathan Albaladejo with three runs before Mariano Rivera entered to get the final out.

Rivera did, but not until after Curtis Granderson hit a three-run homer to make it 8-6, to seal Girardi's 100th win with the Yankees.

"I had no idea," Girardi said. "I'd like to get 100 in a season, though."

Notes: Detroit's Carlos Guillen (right Achilles' tendon) was in the lineup as a DH for the sixth straight game, but the team hopes he's healthy enough to play LF Friday at home in the series opener against Cleveland. ... Yankees RHP Ian Kennedy was evaluated Wednesday at New York Presbyterian Hospital and tests showed a spasm in his middle finger.