Joba proving to be a reliable eighth-inning guy

Joba proving to be a reliable eighth-inning guy

SEATTLE -- The mixing and matching in the eighth inning ended a while ago, the way Joba Chamberlain has been pitching. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus essentially formalized it Saturday.

With Robinson Cano lurking on Seattle's bench this weekend, held out of the lineup for a third consecutive game with a bruised left hand, that was a key distinction for Chamberlain, Cano's former teammate with the Yankees.

"I think he's earned that at this point," Ausmus said of the lefty-righty indifference.

Chamberlain has statistically had more success against left-handed hitters, including a .249 batting average for his career compared with .259 for right-handed batters. Even during his struggles last season, right-handers batted .295 off him compared with .257 for lefties.

The question would be more about whether Ian Krol would enter in a lefty-lefty situation in the eighth. That hasn't been the case.

Chamberlain entered Saturday having held opponents scoreless in his last nine appearances, and 15 of his last 16 games. In the latter stretch, Chamberlain has allowed two earned runs on 11 hits over 15 2/3 innings, walking five and striking out 17.

Left-handed hitters entered Saturday batting .233 (10-for-43) with two doubles, a triple, five walks and 13 strikeouts against him. Right-handed batters were hitting .267 (12-for-45) with two doubles, two walks and 16 strikeouts.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.