Dave Robertson has built his reputation on getting out of late-inning trouble, and Mark Teixeira is widely considered one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball. The Yankees faced plenty of uncertainty tonight — who knew what to expect from Freddy Garcia or against Matt Moore? — but the Yankees have come to depend on Robertson and Teixeira. In a decisive seventh inning, it was those reliable pieces that let them down.
Two outs, one-run lead, runner at second
The Yankees turned to their setup man a third of an inning earlier than usual. The Rays called on Brooks Conrad to pinch hit, and Robertson immediately fell behind in the count before letting Conrad line a game-tying double off the wall in right field.
“It was a 3-1 count, I had to make a good pitch,” Robertson said. “I never faced him before but still, I shouldn’t have fallen behind on him. I gotta get one out. I got a runner on second. I blew it there. I blew the game. It didn’t really matter after that. I felt like, in that situation, I should have been able to come in and get the out.”
Place the blame on Teixeira? Robertson wouldn’t hear of it.
“I feel like I flat-out blew the game today,” Robertson said. “I feel like that one’s not on Tex. He’s made amazing plays behind us all year long and he’s done it for three years that he’s been here. It’s gonna happen. I still should have been able to get Conrad out. That one falls on me today.”
Two outs, game tied, runner at second
After giving up the game-tying double, Robertson faced No. 9 hitter Elliott Johnson, the Rays light-hitting utility infielder. He hit a sharp bouncing ball right along the first-base line. Teixeira got there in time and seemed to have a play. Then, suddenly, he didn’t have a play.
“It’s one of those that, after it goes by, you go, ‘What just happened?’” Teixeira said. “I didn’t even get leather on it. Usually, you can knock it down or something when it takes a weird bounce. I tried to look at video, but I couldn’t tell what happened. … Usually you can say, ‘I charged it when I should have laid back’ or ‘I laid back when I should have charged it.’ I just missed it. I don’t know what happened. The ball obviously didn’t do what I expected it to do.”
Place the blame on Robertson? Teixeira wouldn’t hear of it.
“We should still be playing,” he said. “That’s the tough thing. We battled all night, and we should still be playing right now if I make that play.”
• This was easily Garcia’s best start of the season, and it looked a lot like those steady-but-not-overwhelming starts the Yankees saw so often last season. “It’s been so long in the bullpen,” he said. “I came here today and I pitched five innings and one-third. I threw pretty good. I made a couple of mistakes and paid for them. Besides that, I always tried to throw strikes and make a good pitch.”
• Garcia’s pitch limit was 75, and he threw 74. His last was the Carlos Pena home run that tied the game in the sixth, but Garcia said fatigue wasn’t an issue. “They asked me,” Garcia said. “I was feeling fine. They asked me in the sixth inning, go hitter by hitter. That’s what they did, but I threw the pitch to Pena. I know he was looking for it all night because I threw like 10 backdoor sliders.”
• Clay Rapada was loose when Pena came to the plate, but Girardi liked the way Garcia was throwing the ball and wanted to let him try to get Pena. “If the first guy gets on, I was going to go to Rapada,” Girardi said. “But (Garcia)’s done a tremendous job in his career, and the last two years on Pena. When you look at what Freddy’s done to him, he’s still throwing the ball good, I said you know what, I’m going to leave him in.”
• Coming into tonight, Pena was a career .103 hitter with no extra-base hits, no RBI and 11 strikeouts in 39 at-bats against Garcia. He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout in his first two bats against Garcia tonight.
• Girardi on Teixeira: “You expect him to come up with every ball. That’s how good he is. Tonight, it wasn’t meant to be.”
• Girardi on Robertson: “You figure he’s going to get that big strikeout when he needs it. That’s what he’s been so good at for us for the last couple years. He just didn’t do it tonight.”
• In the past few days, Robertson has blown a couple of situations like this. He said it has nothing to do with being rusty after the month-long DL stint. “I’m completely back,” he said. “I felt great. I felt like I was throwing the ball real hard. I just fell behind on a good hitter, and he made me pay for it. He made us pay for it.”
• Garcia has made five career starts against the Rays. This was the first time that his team lost one of those starts.
• Moore allowed two runs in the first inning, but the Yankees didn’t score again until the seventh. They hit into three double plays in the first six innings. “Mixing in his pitches,” Teixeira said. “The guy throws 95-96 from the left side. When he needed to get the big out, he did. He kept the ball down in the zone, his breaking ball was really good late in the game and his changeup was good all game.”
• Robinson Cano has an RBI in six straight games, tied for the longest streak of his career. … Derek Jeter was hitless in his past 19 at-bats against the Rays before his leadoff double. … Coming into tonight’s game, Teixiera had 663 chances without an error this season.
• Here’s a gross image: Raul Ibanez has eight stitches in his lip after that weird injury on Sunday when he broke a tooth and cut his lip while dodging a foul ball from inside the Yankees dugout. “I just moved out of the way of a foul ball,” he said. “When I moved out of the way, it hit that steal part of the bench. I should have taken the ball.” Ibanez was tested for a concussion and will eventually have one of his top teeth fixed because it chipped significantly. The freakish part is that his doctor found — thankfully — three pieces of the chipped tooth imbedded in Ibanez’s lip! “I just have to suck out of a straw,” he said. “It’s my own fault for moving out of the way of the ball. I should have just caught it.”
Associated Press photo