When Andy Pettitte went down with his groin strain, Joe Girardi summoned David Robertson from the bullpen. He gave his reasons — Robertson’s propensity for strikeouts and his ability to get loose quickly — but the situation practically required more than a typical long man. The Rays led 3-2 behind their ace, David Price, and they had a runner on with another batter up 3-and-0 in the count.
Alex Rodriguez later called it a bold move. It turned out to be the wise one. Robertson threw ball four to Kelly Shoppach but escaped the jam on a pair of fly outs by Sean Rodriguez and B.J. Upton.
“I think Joe did a great job,” A-Rod said. “Sending in Robertson was kind of a bold move, but it paid off. I think those were the two biggest outs of the game.”
The bullpen finished with 6 2/3 of two-run, five-hit ball. Robertson tossed 1 2/3 scoreless and Chan Ho Park followed with 1 1/3 perfect innings. Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain held the lead before Mariano Rivera recorded the final out with a man on by throwing just one pitch.
It all started with Robertson.
“I just felt that that was our best option at that time. I liked his stuff in that spot and he did a tremendous job,” Girardi said. “Our whole bullpen did a tremendous job tonight.”
Robertson conceded that it was a “weird” situation to warmup on the field rather than the bullpen. He was unswayed when they asked for him. He figured immediately that it was possible once Pettitte went down.
“I kind of saw the situation and thought it might be a situation I’m going to come in to,” Robertson said.
After Park’s perfect work, Logan, who was called up when Damaso Marte went on the DL Saturday, pitched well despite allowing a solo homer to Gabe Kapler. Chamberlain struck out two in a solid eighth before a pair of Tampa doubles in the ninth pushed another run across.
Girardi quickly turned to Rivera despite a four-run lead. However, he said it had more to do with Chamberlain’s pitch-count than his lack of faith in the struggling setup man.
“I had a pitch-limit on Joba. I wasn’t going to let him go more than that,” Girardi said. And I also felt it was good to get Mo in the game. He hadn’t pitched in four days until Friday.”
• Alex Rodriguez hit the 598th homer of his career. He said the pursuit of No. 600 is much different than that of No. 500 although this club is far more exclusive. Rodriguez will become just the seventh member of Club 600.
“We have so much going on,” Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of team goals going on right now, so my focus is on think small, think about driving in big runs and not worry about too much.”
• I’ll have more on him tomorrow, but Derek Jeter may have snapped out of his slump today. He went 2 for 5 with the go-ahead RBI single. It was just his second multi-hit game in his last 16.
• Quietly, Mark Teixeira has now reached base in 35 straight games. It matches the second-longest streak of his career and is just one shy of matching the longest. He has now hit safely in 22 of his last 25 games and 29 of his last 34. Tex has raised his average from .211 to .253.
• Now 58-33, the Yanks have moved three games in front in the division. It matches their biggest lead all season. They also now have their best record after 91 games since a pretty good year, 1998, when they were an absurd 68-23.