After getting a well-deserved day off Tuesday following three straight appearances, Chamberlain came into the game a little early Wednesday.
The Arizona Diamondbacks had runners at first and second with just one out in the seventh and the Tigers holding a 7-5 lead.
Chamberlain came in to face Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks’ best hitter.
One pitch later, the Tigers were out of the inning as Goldschmidt grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
I’ll stick to trying to get guys out at the plate.
"Joba’s been the most consistent pitcher and it was perfect for him to come in in that situation," FOX Sports Detroit analyst Craig Monroe said. "(Anibal) Sanchez appeared to have run out of gas. Joba comes in, throws a real good slider to Goldschmidt, who’s hitting over .300, led the American League last year with 36 home runs, makes a quality pitch and gets out of the inning. Definitely stopped the bleeding for the Tigers."
Chamberlain picked up his 21st hold of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.40.
"Obviously in that situation, runners on first and second, Paul can obviously change the game with one swing, Sanchie pitched his tail off, we got him some runs, they started to chip away," Chamberlain told FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating on the post-game show. "I knew it was a big situation there, especially with Goldie coming up and what he can do. Alex had a great game plan of what we wanted to do right there and executed it fine."
With the score close, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus let Chamberlain bat in the eighth inning.
First, they had to find a batting helmet to fit Chamberlain.
The at-bat went about as well as you’d expect, with Chamberlain striking out against the hard-throwing Matt Stites.
"It was the hardest one he threw all day against me," Chamberlain told Keating. "You try to do as much as you can up there, obviously you’re not trying to hit a homer or whatever, you’re trying to see some pitches."
Torii Hunter gave Chamberlain some applause, but he and the other Tigers were clearly amused by Chamberlain trying to hit a 97-mile-per-hour fastball.
"He’ll be in the cage real soon," Monroe said. "The first take was good, he got the front foot down, saw one. Then all of a sudden the guy says, I’ll dial it up a little bit more and you can’t catch up to 97 down on the black. Not a pitcher."
Chamberlain actually watched his at-bat in the clubhouse while he was talking to Keating.
"That was a good take," Chamberlain observed. "I tried to shoot the four-hole. It was a ball. That’s on me. I gotta know the zone better than that.That’s tough to do, (him) coming in throwing hard. I’m glad I’m a pitcher because that’s not easy."
The Tigers scored four runs after Chamberlain struck out so Ausmus went to Blaine Hardy for the eighth and ninth.
"Once the game opened up a little bit, we used Joba quite a bit so it’s an opportunity to get him out of the game, get him some rest and have him available all weekend, hopefully, most of the weekend in Anaheim," Ausmus told Keating.
For Chamberlain, even the strikeout turned out to be a win.
"Obviously I struck out but I got a good souvenir in MIggy’s gloves so I’ll take that," Chamberlain said.
Chamberlain tweeted out a photo of the MVP gloves after the game.
But that doesn’t mean that Chamberlain, now 0-for-6 in his career as a hitter, wants to use them again.
"I’ll pass on that," Chamberlain said. "I’ll stick to trying to get guys out at the plate."