That didn’t take long.
In just his second save opportunity as Yankees closer after Mariano Rivera was likely lost for the season last week with a knee injury, David Robertson imploded, giving up four runs in the ninth in a 4-1 loss last night to the Rays at the Stadium.
“I blew it tonight,” said Robertson, who loaded the bases, gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly to B.J. Upton and a three-run homer to Matt Joyce. “It’s a sad way to end a game.”
And while Robertson has picked up a lot from Rivera sitting in the bullpen the last few years, he’ll soon have to apply one of his most important lessons.
BAD ENDING: Robinson Cano confers with David Robertson after the Yankees’ new closer gave up a three-run homer to Matt Joyce in the ninth inning of the Rays’ 4-1 victory last night at the Stadium.
“It’s gonna happen,” said Robertson, who gave up just eight runs all of 2011 and hadn’t been scored on in 26 1/3 innings — since Aug. 29 last year vs. Baltimore. “You’re gonna lose games. It’s the worst feeling in the world. When Mo does it, he comes back the next day and is the same guy. He goes right back out there, takes the mound and does his thing. I’m gonna have to do that [tonight].”
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He might not have the chance, since manager Joe Girardi said he probably won’t use Robertson tonight after going to him two straight nights.
But Girardi hasn’t wavered in his support of Robertson.
“It’s obviously an adjustment anytime you move up in a role,” Girardi said. “I have a ton of confidence he’ll do a good job for us and he’ll bounce back.”
Robertson gave up singles with his first two pitches and walked Ben Zobrist to load the bases. He struck out Carlos Pena looking for the first out, but Upton’s fly ball to right field was just deep enough for Sean Rodriguez to beat Nick Swisher’s throw home. Joyce followed with his homer on a 1-2 pitch that saw him slip to the ground while twisting his ankle.
“Eventually I’m not gonna be able to get out of all my messes that I create,” said Robertson, famous for pitching out of jams.
Despite the loss, his teammates believe Robertson can do the job.
“No one in this room has lost any confidence in [Robertson],” Swisher said. “I know Mo’s blown a save in his career. He’s just learning how to do this. I think he’ll be right back here [tonight], ready to go. He’s a fighter. In a situation like that, I wouldn’t want anybody else out there but him right now.”
Boone Logan knows it won’t be easy.
“He’s got big shoes to fill,” said Logan, who got a key strikeout with the bases loaded in the fifth. “Maybe he’s putting too much pressure on himself. He’s never been a finesse pitcher. When he just throws, he’s unhittable. I think he’s trying to be too fine.”
Rafael Soriano, who managed to get through a scoreless eighth last night, figures to get a shot tonight if a save opportunity arises.
Prior to Robertson’s problems, the bullpen had been terrific for the Yankees, with Logan, Cory Wade and Soriano pitching 3 1/3 shutout innings in relief of David Phelps.
Phelps, who could be bumped out of the rotation Sunday when Andy Pettitte returns, was decent again — but inefficient. He didn’t give up any runs, but needed 89 pitches to get through 4 2/3 innings.
Girardi said he hadn’t determined what he was going to do with Phelps, adding: “The kid pitched his heart out.”
The Yanks couldn’t muster much against Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann after Derek Jeter scored in the first on Robinson Cano’s double.
Until the ninth, it seemed it might be enough.
“[Tonight] can’t come fast enough,” Robertson said. “I can’t wait to get another chance.”
David Robertson, Robertson, Matt Joyce, Joe Girardi, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, B.J. Upton, Yankees