May
09

Robertson blows save in ugly loss to Rays

By

Whenever a team has beaten the Yankees with a ninth inning rally over the last 15 years, there was nothing more you could do than tip your cap because you knew they beat the best in Mariano Rivera. Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Rays was a stunning culmination of every Yankees fans’ worst nightmare in the post-Mo era.

(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Blown Save

It took David Robertson all of six pitches to load the bases in the ninth inning. Sean Rodriguez led off with a first pitch ground ball single through the left side, Brandon Allen followed up with a solid first pitch line drive single to right, then Ben Zobrist drew a four-pitch walk. Six pitches, three base runners, and one of them was a walk. That’s hard to do.

The Houdini Act finally caught up to Robertson on Wednesday night, as his team handed him a one-run lead and he couldn’t convert it to a win. B.J. Upton plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly — Nick Swisher nearly threw the runner out at the plate, surprisingly — and Matt Joyce broke things open with a two-strike, three-run homer one batter later. It was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie off the top of the wall in right-center, but they all count the same. It was the first homer Robertson allowed to a left-handed batter in more than two years, since Matt Wieters got him in Baltimore in May 2010.

Blown saves do not sit well with the natives, and there are going to be a lot of questions about the security of the ninth inning over the next few weeks. It’s the nature of beast. Robertson is as qualified to close as anyone, but he’s going to have to show everyone he can actually do it. This is a results town. “Tomorrow can’t come fast enough,” said David after the game and that’s all anyone can do, turn the page and look forward to the next game. At some point soon, Robertson will have a chance to redeem himself.

He Belongs

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

David Phelps is going to lose his rotation spot this weekend through no fault of his own, really. Andy Pettitte is coming back and someone has to go, and it’s very likely the rookie will head back to the bullpen. Other than throw a no-hitter, there was pretty much nothing Phelps could have done to save his job against the Rays, but he took care of business and showed the team that whenever they need another starter — and they inevitably will at some point — he’s the man for the job.

A double and two walks made the first inning a bit of a nightmare, but Phelps escaped unscathed by getting Will Rhymes to ground out weakly to second. That started a string of seven straight and 12 of 13 retired by the Yankees’ right-hander before he ran out of gas with two outs in the fourth. Having spent most of the year in the bullpen, hitting the wall at 75-80 pitches isn’t a surprise. Phelps allowed another double to Ben Zobrist and issued two straight walks before being lifted for Boone Logan, who struck out Matt Joyce to end the threat.

Four walks, three strikeouts, five ground balls, four fly balls, and two doubles allowed in 4.2 innings doesn’t look great in the box score, but Phelps sure looked like he belonged on Wednesday night. The starting pitching has started to sort itself out over the last two weeks or so, and part of that turn around has to do with Phelps’ solid work to bridging the gap between the awful Freddy Garcia and the un-retired Pettitte. Nice job, kiddo.

NOffense

Not to absolve Robertson of anything — bottom line, he’s gotta close the game out — but the Yankees can’t expect to win many games by scoring only one run. Not against an AL East rival and definitely not in Yankee Stadium. The only run they did score came on a two-out opposite field double from Robinson Cano in the very first inning, driving in Derek Jeter all the way from first. The Yankees were a slightly better relay throw away from being shutout.

Unsurprisingly, the team went hitless in eight at-bats with men in scoring position. That’s a pretty good explanation of why they only scored the one run. The worst instance of RISPFAIL came in the sixth, after Alex Rodriguez stole third (!) with one out. Mark Teixeira couldn’t put the ball in play and struck out, then Nick Swisher flew out to end the inning after an 11-pitch at-bat. The Yankees also had runners on first and second in the eighth before Tex grounded into a well-turned inning-ending double play. One run’s not enough, fellas.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Leftovers

Give Joe Girardi major props for lifting Phelps when he did. It would have been very easy to leave him in to face Joyce in an effort to get him a win, but the quick hook — and Boone’s four sliders — preserved the one-run lead in the middle innings. We all wanted to see Phelps escape the jam and stuff, but the team win is more important and Girardi make a big-time move to help the cause. Too bad they couldn’t finish it off.

It’s pretty easy to forget that before Robertson’s blow save, Rafael Soriano nearly coughed things up in the eighth. A throwing error by Cano put runners at first and second with no outs, but Soriano escaped the inning with a strikeout, a great play on a hot shot ground ball by Teixeira, and a fly ball. Big ups to Cory Wade for retiring all four men he faced between Logan and Soriano.

Jeter became the fastest Yankee ever (ever!) to 50 hits in a season with his first inning excuse-me single. He did it in just 30 games. Coming into Wednesday night, Derek had six more hits than any other player in the majors. That’s not a small margin, folks.

Cano, A-Rod, and Swisher all had two hits while Jeter, Raul Ibanez, and Russell Martin had one each. Robbie’s double was the only extra-base hit and Ibanez was the only batter to draw a walk. The Yankees have only drawn 20 walks in their last nine games, well below their usual rate. It’s not a coincidence that they’ve only scored 3.2 runs per game during that stretch.

Two streaks came to an end on Wednesday night. Robertson’s scoreless streak dating back to September 1st of last year ended at 27 innings, and Curtis Granderson‘s streak of reaching base in 28 consecutive games came to an end as well. Both were bound to end sometime.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

Now that’s an eyesore, yikes. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

It’s a battle of ace left-handers in the rubber match Thursday night, when CC Sabathia gets the ball against David Price. If you want to check that one out, give RAB Tickets a look for the latest and greatest deals.

Categories : Game Stories
  • DT

    Meh one of those shit happens, win tomorrow types of games.

  • Kosmo

    Looks like Jeter could be headed for another 200 hit season. Amazing ! It would be great to win a 1-0 game but alas it didn´t work out.
    If Phelps goes back to the bullpen what happens to Garcia ? DFA ?

    • Need Pitching

      more likely Eppley gets sent down

      • Kosmo

        I forgot about Eppley !

        • Havok9120

          Its easy to do.

  • Brian S.

    I hate Mark Teixeira.

    • Landry

      I’m sure he’ll lose sleep over it.

      • qwertyuio

        good cause i hope he dies.

        • MannyGeee

          wow

    • Randi B

      Teixeira has been a notoriously slow starter for years.

    • jsbrendog

      teixeira hit 2 balls riught on the screws hard as hell, solid line drives but right at people. it’s coming.

  • Matthew

    It was an irritating loss but one that doesn’t really have anything to do with saves or closing or the ninth inning. For all we know Dave might have run into the same problem if he pitched in the eighth. But still, good times. I look forward to Soriano taking over soon because he has “experience getting saves.” What a wonderful statistic the save is. :D

    I, on the other hand, will absolve Dave. One run is rarely enough. The lead was almost blown several times throughout the game. Still, I’m sure there will be runs tomorrow and I look forward to watching Derek against a lefty. What’s his batting line vs. LHP now? Isn’t it like .900/.9000/.90000? Something like that, I’m sure…

  • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

    It really is amazing how ugly the game thread got after the 9th inning. Comparing D-Rob to Albers? Really people?

    We might as well get used to hearing that DRob can’t handle the 9th if he blows one in the future, just like we heard that Mo was done every time he had a hiccup.

    Looking forward to CC and Price tomorrow.

  • Coach’s Son

    Why should Phelps lose his job over Hughes?

    • Kosmo

      pecking order. Yanks have more of an investment in Hughes succeeding than failing but if Hughes reverts back to his early season lack of form then it makes sense Phelps would eventually get the nod over Hughes.

    • Knoxvillain

      He shouldn’t. But you’re talking about Girardi. Easily one of the worst managers in the game.

      • Havok9120

        A) No, he’s not. Unimaginative maybe, but not generally bad.

        B) Its mostly not his call anyway. This is an organizational matter at least as much as it is a baseball one. The future of Hughes and Phelps goes above the head of the manager of the MLB club, just as all moves involving moving someone off the 25-man do.

        • FIPster Doofus

          Plus, it’s not the end-all, be-all, but Hughes’ K:BB ratio is 30:8. He’s striking out better than a batter per inning. That’s at least encouraging. Might as well stick it out with him for a couple more starts and see if his other numbers start to fall into place. If not, give Phelps another try.

          P.S.

          God help Hughes if he can’t fare decently at worst against the Mariners this weekend. I mean, they’re the fucking Mariners.

          • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

            I’ve been watching them a little. You’d be surprised. They’re not “good, ” by any stretch of the imagination. But there aren’t easy outs in their lineup any more. Seager, Jesus, Ackley, Smoak, Ichiro….even Chone has been serviceable. They can put 4 runs on the board now instead of just 1 or 2. Not to mention, you know Montero is going to be aching for payback. You can chalk him up for at least 2 right field jacks this series.

            • MannyGeee

              I wonder what putting 4 runs on the board feels like… (sarcasm implied)

      • Matthew

        No way he’s one of the worst managers in the game. I’d call him an average manager which, on the Major League scale, means he’s in the top ten. Honestly, look at some of the other managers around and you’ll be thanking the lord that we have Girardi.

        A couple of examples: Charlie Manuel’s presser today where he blasts his team for playing poorly. If it wasn’t for his managing the Phillies would likely be above .500 now. Also, the other day Don Mattingly claimed he didn’t understand why people were ripping him over his use of sac bunts. He literally doesn’t know that giving away outs is bad. See also Jim Tracy, Bruce Bochy, et cetera.

        Now, Girardi makes his share of embarrassing decisions. But at least he has some knowledge of how to use statistics, and at least most of the time he stays out of the way and lets the team play. And he never rips his players. You can do better than Girardi, but it would be a lot easier to do far, far worse.

        • FIPster Doofus

          I totally agree. The grass is always greener to some people, though.

        • Jesse

          Great points.

        • Randi B

          Great points… As for the Sac bunt thing, small ball works only if your lineup consistently produces. It worked for the Yanks in the ’90s ’cause we had guys that always hit and didn’t leave guys on base.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    I know the Yankees benefit from the short porch as much as their opponents but the homers to RF are getting ridiculous. Any decently hit fly ball to right has a chance to go out almost to the point of absurdity.

    They need to move back or raise the fence to at least make it play like the old stadium used to because when you see guys like Luke Scott on Tuesday upset because he think he popped out only to see the ball clear the fence, it cheapens the game.

    • Brian S.

      I agree. A-Rod hit one last year against Toronto where he thought he popped out but ended up with a home run. It’s bullshit. Raise the fences a few feet and move the fences a few feet back.

      • EM

        Couldn’t agree more. Can’t stand the new stadium.

        • gc

          Yeah, that kind of thing NEVER happened at the old stadium.
          Wait…what??

    • Deep Thoughts

      Yes, every baseball and Yankee fan I talk to agrees that they want to see less of them. And by “every” I mean none of them. And I’m sure the Yankees, with all their lefty sluggers, would be thrilled to push the fences back in right.

      Maybe you’re a soccer fan who wants to spend 90 minutes watching a 1-0 blowout.

      • MannyGeee

        this, Grandy got to take full advantage of one of these Monday night just like Luke Scott did.

        Good thing homers dont help your team win or sell seats. it is what it is.

  • Deep Thoughts

    Ben Zobrist is so annoying. I hope the Yankees sign Cole Hamels so he can hit Ben Zobrist in the back.

    OT but I had to laugh as Mattingly just brought in Chris Capuano to pinch-bunt in the 8th with 1st & 2nd and no out…

    • Deep Thoughts

      …which of course gave the light-hitting Dee Gordon the opportunity to ground into a fielder’s choice 5-2, runner out at home. After a walk, Matt Kemp grounds out, inning over.

  • Jesse

    Really hope CC pitches a CG SO tomorrow, you guys.

    • Havok9120

      It would be nice.

  • UNCC Josh

    Yanks have a terrible loss, Rangers fall to the Caps, and the Knicks get eliminated. Dang. Here’s to hoping the Yanks and Rangers bounce back, and the Knicks keep Lin (which they better)

    • Jesse

      I’d be shocked out of my mind if the Knicks don’t keep Lin.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    A-Rod may get his cheap singles and hit. 275, but damn. Somethings gotta change here. These guys need to start punishing the ball. Tex and A-Rod have just become way too easy to pitch to. I’m not questioning their effort, nor their ability to field the ball. But you don’t pay a combined $55M for Emilio Bonafacio & Doug Mienkiewicz.

    Come on fellas! Drive the damn ball.

  • Cappy

    Does anyone else HATE the Rays? Forget the Red Sox. It seems like the past couple of years these Rays games are always too close for comfort and get my blood pressure up far more than any Yanks/Red Sox games.

    • Deep Thoughts

      It does piss me off that Madden thinks just because he spends more money on eyeglasses than Elton John, he gets to be the Professor Peabody heir to Tony LaRussa. Out-homering their shift the other night, then slamming the door with a called strike three, was awesome.

      And I still remember Eliot Johnson breaking Cervelli’s wrist with a hard slide at home…in Spring Training. So yeah, I’d say there’s some hatred there.

      • MannyGeee

        they are becoming less likable, thats for sure. Luke Scott is the worst.

    • Jesse

      For me, at least, I’m not quite in the “HATE” stage with the Rays like I am with the Red Sox, but they’re definitely on their way.

    • Randi B

      I completely agree!!! IMO, the Yanks/Sox rivalry is on hiatus until the Sox can build a decent team again. The rivalry is definitely Yanks/Rays. Glad someone else noticed this.

      • TomH

        Just as long as the Yanks don’t get to the dismal point where the Rays are putting their rivalry with them on hold until they can field decent teams. Cause this present team is not at present “decent,” not with a 3-4-5 disaster like ARod, Cano, and Teixeira.

  • Chrisis

    Did you guys see Joyce roll his ankle on that swing?

    He was still faster than Ortiz though.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I watched the game last night and like everyone else was disappointed in the end result. But David R. will have to fail and then learn to succeed from the experience. He needs more opts. to achieve the experience of closing. And us as fans will need more patience with the ups and downs of his learning experience.

    The Rays to me have excellent starting pitching which keeps them in the games. What I don’t understand is how a lineup with 5 or 6 guys hitting about .200 come up so big, all the time. And where our guys come up so small, much of the time. Arod and Teix. look horrible at the plate. Teix. for all the talk over the off season and Spring going the other way refuses to drive it to left field. There were pitches on the outside corners or middle out of the plate where attempts could have been made with the left side of the infield wide open. Teix. is getting under my skin. But, like the Rays take Pena’s defense and 30 HRs. with the strikeouts. We will have to accept Teix. is not the 22 million dollar player that we thought we were getting.

    • Brian in NH

      Its not just hitting…its timely hitting. Theoretically you could have a team full of guys that hit .300 all with a 20 game hit streak, but not score many runs because they are all hitting with nobody on in front of them, and conversely you could have a team full of .210 hitters who all get their one hit in the same inning and score runs. This is all theoretically possible, but highly improbable. More than likely, TB is just a good team, with good pitching and decent enough hitting. You are experiencing the negative confirmation bias here. You don’t win 95 games in a year by never coming up in “big spots.” But when you run into a team with quality pitching like Tampa, good pitching will more often than not beat good hitting.

      • Randi B

        Exactly… and that’s the #1 problem with the Yankees lineup: they’re not timely hitters.

  • A.D.

    Post game press conferences annoyed me, it felt like the Media was acting as if Mo has never blown a save in his life, blown saves happen, move on.

    • Kosmo

      I seem to remember when Rivera took over the closers role in 1997 he didn´t really get his footing until May. I think he blew 3 of his first 5 save opportunities.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Thanks for that info. I hadn’t had a chance to look it up, but thought I remembered something like that too. Certainly hope Robertson only struggles early on, then settles in.

        I was kind of annoyed that Girardi didn’t leave Robertson in after he gave up the HR, but I guess with the pitch count from Tuesday night’s game plus the stress of last night’s, he was justified in pulling him. Just thought it might help him mentally to have the manager allow him to close it out even after giving up the lead.

  • King Joffery

    I just don’t know what this club does better than everyone else. It’s supposed to be our offense and we only scrap together one run in the 1st inning. Swisher, Jeter and A-Rod are doing their jobs. Cano had one good hit yesterday. Where is Teixera?

    Robertson is going to blow saves. He’s not as good as Mariano. He’ll be just fine. It’s the offense that let us down last night. We should still be able to take the series with our ace on the mound at home. Not sure if Soriano and Robertson will be available so the big man is going to have to go deep tonight.

    • MannyGeee

      “I just don’t know what this club does better than everyone else.”

      Honestly, they hit really good pitching better than most. its mediocre and shitty pitching they have trouble with. They hit Shields well, thay will hit Price well tonight, nut Noesi will 2-hit them on Saturday.

  • ADam

    Watching tex play baseball is simply sad. He looks awful, he reminds me of Adam Dunn last year. Girardi needs to grow a pair and dump him to 7th or 8th in the lineup. He needs to stop worrying about his feelings and when gardy gets back a lineup change needs to happen.

  • adjusts batting gloves

    I’m reposting this from the end of the game thread. I think it’s worth looking into, although it won’t bring Mo back or change the outcome of last night’s game.
    “I’d like to see Mike or one of the wonderful statheads here at RAB do a post on whether blown saves are more common when closers work consecutive nights,in general, and consecutive nights having thrown 20plus pitches the first night. My hunch is that indeed closers working 2 nights in a row are more likely to blow the save. The question then is whether they’re more likely to blow the save than another non-closer reliever brought in to do the job on the second night of back-to-backs.

    • Kosmo

      This info is incomplete simply because I couldn´t come up with the blown save stat and this is just Rivera´s career which is indeed an impeccable one and not the one to measure the entire league by.
      Back to back days, no rest 1.95 ERA
      1 day of rest between appearances 2.67
      2 days 1.66
      3 days 1.70
      4 days 1.76
      5 days 1.46

      it does indicate, if I´m reading this stuff accurately, that it never bothered the great Mariano pitching on consecutive days at least in the ER department.

  • JohnC

    Only issue I had with Robertson was giving Joyce a fastball there ahed in the count. He’d broken off 2 sharp curves, freezing him on both. Joyce is a dead fastball hitter. Would have kept giving him breaking pitches there, but its a learning experience. He’ll bounce back.

  • gc

    Awww, I was waiting for Bonnie Parker to show up and make a proclamation that David Robertson just isn’t suited for the 9th inning and we’ll never be comfortable again as Yankee fans now that the “soul of the team,” Mariano is on the shelf. And how we’ll never be able to beat the Rays and this was the most crucial game of the year, being a divisional game, and that if CC doesn’t beat them tonight, we’re doomed. Oh, and Phil Hughes’ next start will be his “last stand.” Am I missing anything?

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    I know I am in the minority and DRob has been fabulous as a non-save, non-9th inning reliever but I would still like him to “show” a changeup. Slowly build some confidence in it so a hitter has to think about it. Lots of good closers use it and they all, of course, have fbs and breaking pitches.

    • Randi B

      Robertson will, but it will take some time. He JUST STARTED closing for heavens sake! Everyone here has selective memory… the 9th inning wasn’t automatic when Mariano began closing in 1997 either.

      • Manbeast24

        There is a complete overreaction going on here. Chill out on Dave. . Come to Toronto and see what a shaky save situation really looks like

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      I would like him to continue to pitch the way he always has and attack hitters. If that’s the case, he’ll be fine. Remember all the people along the way that insisted Mariano feature another pitch? The “he should add a change-up” argument came up more than once. I think he worked out fine.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I truly believe Robertson will become an excellent closer. He has to experience the bad with the good to learn his new role. He has a wealth of talent. Now needs to gain the confidence that he pitches the last inning and there will be very few times that he’ll be bailed out. His pitch to Joyce was a fastball on the outside corner. Joyce reached for the pitch got enough wood on the ball. We the know the rest. But the book on Joyce kills righties and sits on the fastball. I do believe a waste pitch (curve in the dirt) to distract from the finishing fastball was appropriate but that is between the Martin and Robertson.

    The Rays coaching staff with Maddon at the helm deserve much applause for the way they get the most out of their talent. Truly amazing.

  • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

    In the interest of accuracy, Alex Rodriguez didn’t really steal third with one out, as stated in the article. He stole third just as Mark Teixeira was taking a (slow) fastball right down the middle for a third strike. By the time Alex reached third base, there were already two out. So, if the implication is that he was stranded at third with less than two out, for once, this was not the case. We don’t really have to stretch to embellish those numbers anyway.

    • TomH

      I think it was Nomar last night who said ARod’s theft “distracted” Teixeira.

  • NYJ

    It was hit to right, there’s no such thing as a “Yankee Stadium cheapie” in right center.