What could have been a win that gave the Yankees a huge confidence boost after losing both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injury yesterday ended up being a devastating 4-3 loss that left the clubhouse feeling as somber as it has in quite some time.
David Robertson is usually one of the last Yankees to express any sort of displeasure, but it was written all over his face tonight. Clearly, Robertson was mad at himself for giving up the decisive home run to Dayan Viciedo in the ninth, but he also was a bit more open about his disappointment with how he was used than I would have expected.
“If it’s up to me – if it’s my choice – yeah, I would prefer (to start the inning),” Robertson said. “But I’ve been in situations before just like that, and I’ve gotten out of them. Tonight just wasn’t my night.”
With regular closer Rafael Soriano understandably unavailable after pitching in four of the last five games, Joe Girardi defended his decision not to start the inning with Robertson.
“His velocity has been not as consistent as before he g0t hurt, so I’m watching him,” Girardi said. “I’m going to be cautious.”
Basically, Girardi said that he decided to mix and match in the ninth inning rather than use Robertson for the second consecutive day. Robertson said that he felt fine to pitch a full inning, even noting that he felt better in his second consecutive day of work against the Mets over the weekend than he did in his first.
When asked if he thought he was going to have the opportunity to start and finish the ninth inning, Robertson responded, “I thought I was.”
• Of course, the inning would have never come down to Viciedo’s homer if Clay Rapada had been able to turn what looked to be a routine double play. After Cody Eppley gave up a single to lead off the inning, Girardi went to Rapada to face the lefty A.J. Pierzynski. Rapada induced a weak ground ball right back to the pitcher, but his throw to second sailed into center field. “I thought I fielded it very cleanly, I just didn’t get my feet going, and pushed the ball right into center field,” Rapada said. “It’s really tough because I executed the pitch that I wanted, I just didn’t do my job as a fielder… Throwing to the chest is throwing to the chest, and I didn’t do it.”
• Girardi was asked if he regretted his decision to not allow Robertson to pitch the entire inning. “No, not at all,” he said. “We give up a hit, and we get a double play ball. I should have been bringing him in with two outs… We’ve done a lot of mixing and matching, and we’re going to continue to do it.”
• Lost in all of the ninth inning madness was a strong outing from Ivan Nova. He was hit hard at times, but gave the Yankees 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. “I have to say my fastball and slider (were working), because my curveball wasn’t there today,” he said. “But I battled to the end.”
• Girardi talked about White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod, who did a pretty good job against this Yankees lineup other than the fifth inning. “I thought he threw a lot of sliders that were effective against us,” Girardi said. “Whether they were behind in the count or ahead in the count, he stayed down and nibbled.”
• The Yankees did most of their damage in the fifth with two outs. Curtis Granderson singled, which was followed by an RBI double from A-Rod. I’ve been saying for quite some time that opposing pitchers seem to always give him these hittable first-pitch strikes because they know he usually takes them. Tonight, he jumped on two first-pitch strikes, and it resulted in two doubles. Robby Cano also had an RBI double in the inning, giving him 19 RBI in the month of June.
• With a man on and two outs in the ninth, Derek Jeter hit one to the wall in right field that could have provided the Yankees with a walkoff win. “I didn’t know,” Jeter said when asked if he thought it was a home run. “They were playing no doubles (defense), so it either goes out or he catches it.”
• Here’s a typical Derek Jeter response on what it means to tie Cal Ripken, Jr. for 13th on the all-time hits list: “Right now, it’s kind of hard to sit around and think about it. Obviously what Cal represents, being a shortstop, he’s someone that I’ve always admired.”
• My opinion on Girardi’s decision not to use Robertson to start the ninth: He got too cute. I understand that Robertson is coming off of an injury, but he was obviously available. He’s their set-up man, and when the closer isn’t ready to go, the set-up man gets to close. You have to show more confidence in a guy that’s been as good as D-Rob. Girardi has done a great job managing the bullpen all year. But not tonight.
Associated Press photos