Dave Robertson and David Phelps have lockers side-by-side in the front of the Yankees clubhouse. They’re as far away from the showers and the player-only dining room as they can get.
Tonight, Robertson told Phelps to take his time . Robertson would walk out first to face the music.
“Eventually, I’m not going to be able to get all of my messes that I create,” Robertson said. “It was really tough. Just a sad way to end the game. … It’s going to happen. You’re going to lose games. It’s the worst feeling in the world. Mo does it, he comes back the next day and he’s the same guy. He goes right back out there and does his thing. I’m going to have to do that tomorrow.”
It goes without saying, but Robertson and Mariano Rivera are very different pitchers. Rivera is a model of calm efficiency. Robertson is a thrill ride. He’s cut down on the walks this year — he was basically pitching around Ben Zobrist when he walked him tonight — but he’s notorious for putting runners on base. He’s also built his Houdini reputation by getting out of those jams. He did it last night. He didn’t do it tonight.
“I think we might be over-evaluating pretty early here,” Joe Girardi said. “This is a strikeout guy. He can just as easily get a strikeout as he can give up a base hit. I don’t want to over-evaluate one situation here. This guy has been tremendous for us, a guy that we’ve counted on heavily. I have a ton of confidence he’s going to do a good job for us.”
Robertson was surprised that the Rays were so aggressive tonight. His first six pitches were a first-pitch single, a first-pitch single and a four-pitch walk with first base open. A strikeout put him a double play away from getting out of the jam, but the sac fly tied it, and after four straight curveballs, Robertson tried to get a fastball past Matt Joyce.
“I’m sure I’m going to think about it tonight,” Robertson said. “Turn on any channel and you’ll see it. Tomorrow can’t come fast enough. I can’t wait to get another chance, that’s for sure.”
Another chance will almost certainly come. It’s worth noting that Rivera blew three of his first six saves when became the Yankees closer in 1997.
“I think we can over-evaluate this on two save opportunities,” Girardi said. “We could talk about this ad nauseam if we wanted to. Let’s give the kid a chance. Let’s give the kid a chance before we’re all ready to predict who he was.
• David Phelps pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, Boone Logan left the bases loaded in the fifth and Rafael Soriano left runners at the corners in the eighth. When Robertson struck out Carlos Pena, it gave him a chance to continue the string of great escapes. “I thought I might be able to, I honestly did,” Roberston said. “B.J. just battled in there and got enough of one to lift it to right field. I knew when he did that, that was going to tie the ball game.”
• Great throw from Swisher, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep the tying run from scoring. “I don’t know man, Rodriguez is pretty fast,” Swisher said. “But in a situation like that, you just give it all you’ve got.”
• Pretty impressive start by Phelps. That 28-pitch first inning came back to haunt him and kept him limited to four and two-thirds, but those were 4.2 scoreless innings that lowered his ERA to 3.08. “These first two games out of the gate I haven’t been as in the attack mode as I should have,” Phelps said. “That’s what I’m really kicking myself for. It leads to a big pitch count in the first inning and that’s two starts in a row I’ve done that. It’s really frustrating. Having a 10-12 pitch first inning makes it a lot easier.”
• Phelps said the two-out fifth inning double kind of threw him off his game. He’d retired 12 of the past 13 batters he’d faced, but after the double, Phelps decided not to give Pena anything to hit. Nibbling in that at-bat changed Phelps approach, and he followed with the walk that loaded the bases and chased him from the game. “It wasn’t so much fatigue,” he said. “But I might have been a little frustrated with the 0-2 pitch (that led to the double) and it carried over.”
• With Phil Hughes pitching much better lately, there’s a solid chance this was Phelps last start for a while. With Andy Pettitte coming back on Sunday, he could be moved back to the bullpen. “I’m not really worried about that,” Phelps said. “Hopefully, it will just take care of itself, and whatever role I’m in I’m just going to try to help the team win as much as I can.”
• Four runs charged to Robertson was his highest single-game total since July 2, 2010. He had allowed just one other home run since August 31, 2010, a stretch of 99 games.
• Cory Wade has stranded all nine of his inherited runners this season.
• Derek Jeter became the first Yankee to ever reach 50 hits within the team’s first 30 games.
• Curtis Granderson snapped a streak of 28 straight games reaching base by walk or hit. It was the longest such streak of his career.
• Brett Gardner went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and a triple in tonight’s Triple-A rehab game. His night was overshadowed by Dellin Betances who allowed one run on two hits through eight innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
• Little surprise, but Girardi said he doesn’t expect to use Robertson tomorrow night. He doesn’t like to use guys three days in a row. Yankees would like to get some distance out of CC Sabathia and not have to worry about a tight game in the late innings.
Associated Press photos