The Yanks won today 5-3, Joba grabbing the win, Coke the hold with 2 scoreless innings, and Mo the save. Mark Texiera hit a solo shot in the first. Robby Cano also hit a solo, his in the 7th. And then Johnny Damon hit a 3 run homer in the 7th as well.
Joba's only real troubles came in the first inning. He allowed two singles to lead off the inning. Got a line out. And then served up a gopher ball to Aubrey Huff. Then he let Melvin Mora single on a bunt. Luckily Cervelli, defensive whizz, picked him off at first while Mora tried to steal second, and after a little game of "pickle" Tex tagged him out. Then Joba let Luke Scott single before he struck out Gregg Zaun. SO in the 1st inning he let the O's get 5 hits, and score 3 runs. But over his next 5 innings he only allowed 4 more hits and no more runs. He walked walked two and added 4 more K's to the one he had from the 1st.
Last week against Boston on el Cinco de Mayo Joba had a similar outing. In the 1st inning of that game he started off by allowing a single to Ellsbury, who then stole 2nd. Then he let Pedroia and Ortiz single. Followed by a Jason Bay homerun. Then he allowed a Mike Lowell single. Luckily, that was followed by the 1st out of the inning, a JD Drew line out to right, and then Jeff Bailey grounded into a double play. But, in that inning he allowed 4 earned runs on 5 hits. In the 4.2 innings he pitched after the 1st, he allowed no earned runs, struck out 12 (yes, 12!), let up 1 more hit, and walked 2.
In Joba's 6 starts this year, he's only had 2 1-2-3 1st innings (KC on the 4/12 and Det on 4/29). Other than those 2 games, he's allowed at least 1 run in the 1st inning of every game he's started.
Basically, Joba hasn't particularly enjoyed the first inning this year, but after that he seems to be pitching phenomenally. He's got ace stuff, and he's shown that even if he has a bad inning, he can rebound and pitch strong for the rest of the game. He's got ace-caliber stuff, obviously, but he needs to figure out how to get through that 1st inning. If he can start games off solidly he'll be the Ace we know he is.