It was Mariano Rivera who blew the save, and it was Dave Robertson who took the loss, but in typical fashion this road trip, the Yankees loss also hinged on a blown scoring opportunity in the 11th. Go-ahead run at third base with no outs. Bases loaded with one out. The Yankees couldn’t take advantage, and the game was lost just minutes later.
“I can always tip my hat to the pitcher if he makes a good pitch,” Lance Berkman said. “But that was a terrible pitch. That ball was hanging right in the middle of the plate. There’s no reason not to hit that ball hard, and I just didn’t do it.”
The Yankees burned through eight players in the course of four plate appearances to load the bases for Berkman.
• Eduardo Nunez pinch ran for Alex Rodriguez who pinch hit for Greg Golson.
• Marcus Thames pinch hit for Ramiro Pena in the middle of an at-bat.
• Mark Teixeira pinch hit for Brett Gardner.
• Derek Jeter hit for himself.
Rodriguez opened the inning with a walk, and the game seemed to change when Mike Gonzalez threw a pickoff attempt into the stands. Pena had been showing bunt, but with the runner at third, Thames came off the bench to swing away.
“If Thames gets the run in, then I can leave Gardy in for defense,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s the thought there. It’s a 1-1 count. Marcus has hit left-handers all year long. Then you have Tex for Gardner if he doesn’t get it done. Berky had some success off Gonzalez, so I was probably going to let him hit, but it didn’t work out.”
After Thames struck out, the Orioles intentionally walked Teixeira and Jeter to face Berkman, who was hitting from his weakest side.
“I felt good,” Berkman said. “I was seeing the ball pretty well right-handed the last couple of times I’ve been up there right-handed. I felt good about the situation. He threw me a good pitch to hit and I just missed it. I hit on top of it. When I hit it I didn’t think they’d be able to turn it, but I guess they made a good turn at second base.
Associated Press photo of Robertson