NEW YORK — First flying bugs, now a flying bat.
When it comes to the postseason, Joba Chamberlain is jinxed.
Chamberlain was knocked out of Game 4 of the AL division series on Thursday when the barrel of Matt Wieters' broken bat hit him on the right elbow in the 12th inning. The Baltimore Orioles went on to a 2-1 victory when Manny Machado doubled against David Phelps leading off the 13th and scored on J.J. Hardy's RBI double.
Eric Chavez ended the game with a lineout, batting in place of slumping Alex Rodriguez as A-Rod left for a pinch hitter for the second straight night.
Now it's up to CC Sabathia to show he's an ace, taking the mound in a decisive Game 5 on Friday night.
Chamberlain has had enough mound misfortunes to fill a horror film.
He was just another normal hard-throwing young gun before Game 2 of the 2007 division series. Then midges swarmed him on the mound in Cleveland and, with those bugs all around, he threw a tying wild pitch in a game the Indians went on to win 2-1 in 11 innings for a 2-0 series lead.
A torn elbow ligament sidelined him in June 2011, and he was close to his return during spring training when he dislocated his right ankle in a trampoline accident while playing with his son. He finally returned on Aug. 1 — against the Orioles — and developed back into a dependable part of the Yankees' bullpen.
Wieters led off the 12th with a single to left field, and a large piece of his bat went twirling toward the mound and hit Chamberlain's surgically repaired pitching elbow. Chamberlain threw down his glove and bent over in pain.
He was checked out by New York trainer Steve Donahue and manager Joe Girardi. While Chamberlain threw three test pitches, Girardi went back to the dugout.
Chamberlain finished his pitches and walked off the field with Donahue. The Yankees said his elbow was bruised and X-rays were negative.
After Hardy's double — his first RBI of the series — Jim Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half. No Yankees' comeback this time, not like in Game 3 when Raul Ibanez batted for A-Rod and hit a tying homer in the ninth and a winning home run in the 12th.
Hours earlier, Nate McLouth's fifth-inning home run was offset by Robinson Cano's RBI grounder in the sixth, and McLouth saved a run in the fifth with a leaping catch against the left-center wall on Jayson Nix's drive with a man on.
It stayed that way in a battle of the bullpens. New York put runners on base in each of the first eight innings but finished the game 0 for 9 with men in scoring position. The Yankees wasted a fine outing by Phil Hughes, who allowed one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings with eight strikeouts and three walks — all leading off innings.
New York had hoped to avoid this. The Yankees wanted to end this series in four games, allowing Sabathia to start the AL championship series opener on Saturday night.
Sabathia held off the Orioles in winning the opener 7-2, allowing two runs and eight hits in 8 2-3 innings. The Yankees need him to do it again just to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2010. And if they do get there, Sabathia likely wouldn't start against until Game 4 on the road.
Like everything with this year's Yankees, nothing comes easily.