Results tagged ‘ David Robertson ’

Uncharacteristic breakdown by bullpen

One of the major questions facing the Yankees in 2014 was how they would deal with life without Mariano Rivera. Yet even with new closer David Robertson gone to the disabled list with a groin injury, the bullpen has been one of the Yankees’ strengths in the season’s first month.

Until Friday night, however.

Relief was nowhere to be found as the Yankees sustained an 11-5 ripping by the Rays, who stopped a four-game losing streak and ended the Yanks’ five-game winning streak as well.

By game’s end, it was hard to believe that the Yankees were once in command having held leads of 4-0 and 5-3. Until the last two innings, it appeared that Hiroki Kuroda would finally win a road game, which he has not done since July 25 last year at Arlington, Texas.

Kuroda departed with two outs in the sixth as Tampa Bay turned it into a one-run game. Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the seventh got the Yanks what seemed an insurance run, but they must not have paid the premium.

The Rays attacked the bullpen for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead and tacked on five more runs in the eighth as the Yanks’ pen simply exploded. It got so crazy that Cesar Cabral was ejected from the game by plate umpire Joe West after he hit his third batter of the inning. Cabral faced six batters in the eighth, all of whom reached base on three hits and three plunks. In addition to all that, Cabral even threw a wild pitch.

Cabral’s ejection forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to bring Shawn Kelley, nominally the closer with Robertson on the DL, into the game to get the final out of the inning.

The pen entered the game unscored upon in its previous seven games covering 15 1/3 innings. The relief corps had held hitters to a .188 batting average with six walks and 22 strikeouts over that stretch.

Friday night, however, the Rays whacked Yankees relievers at a .563 clip and battered them for eight runs in 2 1/3 innings. David Phelps was forced to leave the game when he was struck in the stomach by a line drive. Matt Thornton and Adam Warren followed and could not control the Rays before Cabral came in and all hell broke loose.

Amazingly, all 11 of Tampa Bay’s runs were scored after two were out. It was a decided downer for the Yankees, who are catching the Rays at a time of weakness with two of their top pitchers, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb, on the shelf. Career pin cushion Eric Bedard was the seventh different pitcher to start for Tampa Bay already this year, and the Yanks knocked him out of the game by the fourth inning in building that 4-0 lead, which by the end of the long evening seemed part of another game.

D-Rob injury takes some glow off home opener

All the positive vibes from the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Orioles in Monday’s home opener were tainted somewhat by a singular does of bad news. David Robertson, who has been anointed this year as the success to Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, is headed for the disabled list because of a Grade 1 groin pull. But there was no truth to the rumor that the Yanks would not let Mo leave the building.

Rivera was on hand with “Core Four” partners Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada to help make Derek Jeter’s final home opener a cozy afternoon. Jeter missed the 2013 opener while recovering from ankle surgery, so he was really looking forward to this day. The Captain had his share of ups and downs, but the 4-2 final was all he cared about.

“I’ll take the win,” Jeter said.

The victory would have to come without Robertson’s input. When the ninth inning arrived, Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Shawn Kelley instead. He came through with a 1-2-3 inning to record his first career save in what was also his first ninth-inning save opportunity as a major leaguer.

Robertson apparently hurt his groin during Sunday’s game at Toronto when he picked up his second save of the season but did not say anything to the staff until he came to Yankee Stadium Monday and complained of soreness. An MRI test revealed the strain. Girardi said he would likely mix and match with the closer role, but Kelley the hardest thrower in the bullpen could be the first choice during the period D-Rob is down.

As he did all day, Jeter tried to put a positive spin on the news.

“It’s better to have it happen at the beginning of the season rather than at the middle or at the end,” he said. “I’m sure he’s disappointed, but from what I understand he’ll be fine.”

Jeter’s day was one of mixed results. He struck out twice and grounded into a double play, although a run did score on the twin killing. No RBI, but to DJ a run is a run. His only hit, a double to left leading off the fifth inning, contained its share of drama as well as the Captain jogged a bit going down the first-base line before he had to step it up and leg out a double on a close play at second base.

“I thought it was a home run at first and then that it might go foul because the wind was tricky,” Jeter said with a sly grin. “I knew then I had to pick up the pace. Hey, I was safe. It would have been really embarrassing if I was out. Some guys got on me until they hit some balls into that wind.”

Jeter was also amused that fans near the dugout cheered him right after he hit into that double play. “I guess they appreciated that I hustled,” he said, “and we got a run.”

It always comes back to that for Jeter; what his play means to the team. For the sellout crowd of 48,142 at Yankee Stadium, it was a treat to be able to cheer for the Captain once more as a new season at home got underway.

“It felt like my first home opener,” Jeter said.

Bottom of lineup helps Yanks finish on top

The Yankees’ scuffling offense got a lift from the bottom of the lineup Thursday night as two players who rode the bench previously made the most noise in getting the team its first victory of the 2014 season.

Rookie Yangervis Solarte had a dream of a game in his first major-league start as he collected his first hit, run and run batted in from the 9-hole. A switch-hitter, Solarte got the start at third base against Astros lefthander Brett Oberholtzer as he is being used in a platoon with lefty-swinging Kelly Johnson, who started the first two games.

One night after getting his first sip of big-league play with a pinch-hit appearance and an inning in the field Wednesday night, Solarte went 3-for-3 with a walk Thursday night to help the Yankees toward a much-needed W. A 26-year-old veteran of eight minor-league seasons, Solare doubled and singled twice, scored two runs and drove in one.

His RBI was a bit of a gimme from the Astros on miscommunication in the infield as his pop between the mound fell among three fielders in the seventh inning. With two out, Ichiro Suzuki was running hard from second base and scored, which got Solarte into the RBI column.

Ichiro’s start in right field was something of a hunch for manager Joe Girardi and by doing so may have caused a dilemma. Suzuki had a double and a single and scored two runs. He has been relegated to bench player in a crowded outfield, but with Alfonso Soriano 0-for-12 to start the season perhaps Ichiro can work himself back into the mix.

Suzuki and Solare combined for five of the Yankees’ seven hits and all four runs. At the top of the order, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter each had a two-out RBI hit. The middle of the order continued its chilly ways except for a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran, who was the designated hitter to open the spot for Ichiro and give Soriano some time in left field.

The Yankees matched the improved offense with sound defense. The infield turned four double plays behind starter Ivan Nova, who overcame five walks, two hit batters and a wild pitch over 5 2/3 innings to notch the winning decision. Nova was inconsistent, but he made key pitches when he needed them.

Adam Warren and Sean Kelley were impressive in relief stints before David Robertson began his new role as closer following the retirement of the best in the business, Mariano Rivera. It was a performance that would have made Mo proud. D-Rob retired the side in order with one strikeout to finish off a bullpen effort in which it retired the last 11 Houston batters in a row.

No chance for closer in this opener

None of us expected the Yankees to go 162-0 this year, but the 6-2 loss in Tuesday night’s season opener to the lowly Astros started things off with a thud. The Yanks were six runs in the hole after the first two innings and while Houston was shut out the rest of the way the Yankees could not climb out of it.

A surprisingly effective Scott Feldman took a one-hit shutout into the seventh for the Astros, who won only 51 games last year. A sellout crowd of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park that included Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Nolan Ryan and former President George H.W. Bush witnessed another dismal Opening Day effort by CC Sabathia.

The trimmed-down lefthander admitted afterward that his motor was running a bit too much early on as the Astros jumped him for six runs and six hits, including home runs by those household names Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes, in the first two frames. Sabathia eventually settled down and allowed only two singles over the next five innings long after the barn door was closed.

Opening Day has seldom gone smoothly for Sabathia, whose career mark in lid-lifters is 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA. With the Yankees, CC has been even worse in Opening Day starts — 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA.

The Yankees escaped first-inning scares when Derek Jeter and Brian McCann sustained hand injuries that turned out minor. Jeter had one of the Yankees’ six hits. So did McCann, who drove in his first run with his team team with a single in the seventh. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single to left crossing up an over-shift, which was a good sign.

Jeter and Teixeira were hurt at this time a year ago and with all the newcomers Brett Gardner was the only player other than Sabathia from the 2013 opener in the starting lineup. New right fielder Carlos Beltran had the Yankees’ first hit, a single in the fourth. New center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury reached base once in five plate appearances with a walk.

There certainly was not much to write home about. Dellin Betances may have been the highlight for the Yankees with a scoreless inning of two-strikeout relief. With David Robertson succeeding the retired Mariano Rivera in the closer role, there is the need for a setup reliever to emerge. Betances worked the seventh inning in the opener but continued impressive work could move him into the setup picture.

There would be no save opportunity for D-Rob in this one, however.

Painful ending to Mariano’s special day

And so the farewell tour finally came to Yankee Stadium.

Mariano Rivera’s year-long sojourn throughout North America in his last major-league season has given him the opportunity to connect with fans and employees of all teams. Sunday at the Stadium was about recognition and appreciation from the people who have felt that way about him all of the past 19 seasons.

No franchise handles ceremonies such as these better than the Yankees. And more often than not, the team tops it off with a victory. Not this time, however. The script that should have called for Rivera saving the victory in Andy Pettitte’s last start at the Stadium did not materialize. The two pitchers who have combined for the most victories and saves as a tandem did not push the record total to 73 as the Giants pulled out a 2-1 victory that put the Yankees’ wild-card chances on life support.

“We’re still alive,” manager Joe Girardi said, “but this one hurt.”

It hurt in many ways, not just in the back-to-the-wall posture it placed the team in reference to a postseason berth but also in the aesthetic quality of a feel-good conclusion to a special day before a crowd of 49,197 on a postcard afternoon.

The Yankees pulled out all stops in the pregame ceremony for Rivera, the all-time saves leader who is closing out the career of the game’s greatest closer. After a proclamation from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was read declaring Sunday “Mariano Rivera Day,” members of the families of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the late Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson stood beside Mo for the unveiling of special plaques to honor the most distinguished player to wear uniform No. 42.

The plaque for Jackie Robinson marked the first in Monument Park for a player from another team. Jackie competed against the Yankees with the Brooklyn Dodgers in six World Series. When ‘42’ was retired in perpetuity in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his breaking the color barrier in the big leagues, players wearing the number at the time could keep it. Rivera was the last of those players, and his ‘42’ was retired and placed where Robinson’s blue-toned ‘42’ has been located.

“I didn’t know what to feel,” Rivera said. “At the monument they retired my number, so I guess I am officially retired.”

On the infield in front of the mound were collected many of the people Mo considered important to his career – senior vice president and special adviser Gene Michael, former manager Joe Torre, former trainer Gene Monahan and former teammates Jeff Nelson, David Cone, John Wetteland, Hideki Matsui, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada.

Current teammate Robinson Cano escorted Rachel and Sharon Robinson, Jackie’s widow and daughter, respectively, onto the field; longtime teammate Derek Jeter did likewise for Clara, Mariano Jr., Jafet and Jaziel, Mo’s wife and children. Performing on a bandstand on the center field warning track, Metallica belted out a live version of “Enter Sandman,” which has been his entrance theme since 1999, eight years after the song’s initial release.

Rivera walked to the mound rather than making his usual trot as the band played. The group also presented him with a custom speaker from a recent tour with a sign reading “No. 42 Sandman” on the front. Yankees team president Randy Levine, chief operating officer Lonn Trost and the Steinbrenner family presented Rivera with a $100,000 donation to his foundation.

Even the Giants got into the act. Pitching coach Dave Righetti, first base coach Roberto Kelly, batting coach Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens and assistant hitting coach Joe Lefebvre – all former Yankees – gave Rivera a water-color painting of him pitching at San Francisco’s AT&T Park and an electric guitar featuring the signature of Willie Mays imbedded on the front.

Girardi and Jeter on behalf of the players presented Mo with a rocking chair and a Waterford crystal replica of his glove.

Morock

Mariano Rivera rocks
(USA Today photo)

In addressing the crowd, Rivera got off a good line about his parents, “Thank you for having me that day or that night – I don’t know which – but gracias!” and then to the fans, “Thank for 19 years of support. You were always there for me and the organization, and I will never forget it.”

After paying tribute to his homeland of Panama and his adopted country of the United States (he lives year-round in Westchester County), Rivera said, “So let’s play ball, man. We got to go!”

Pettitte did his best to top the ceremony by flirting with a perfect game and no-hitter for five innings. He retired the first 14 batters before walking Pablo Santoval with two out in the fifth inning. Pettitte was still working on a no-no with one out in the sixth when rookie shortstop Ehire Adrianza hit his first career home run to tie the score. Mark Reynolds had homered off Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit (pronounced puh-TEET) leading off the third inning.

Pettitte admitted he thought about a no-hitter but admitted, “I don’t know if my body would allow me to pitch nine innings anymore.”

He lasted until the first batter in the seventh when Sandoval doubled. Rivera was up in the pen, but Girardi brought in David Robertson, who got the first out on a ground ball but hung a curve to Tony Abreu, who doubled to right to score what proved the deciding run. Rivera entered the game at that point and got out of the inning aided by a sliding catch in center field by Curtis Granderson. Mo worked a scoreless ninth as well and was intent on staying in the game until the Yankees won it.

They wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the eighth after getting runners on second and third with none out but both were subsequently thrown out at the plate. The Yankees went down in order in the ninth, so no victory for them or Rivera. A tough loss was hung on Pettitte, who unless he wins his final start later this week at Houston will have a losing record (10-11) for the first time in his career.

The Rays, Indians and Royals all won their games Sunday. The Yankees are four games behind Cleveland for the second wild-card spot with six to play, three of which will be against Tampa Bay at the Stadium beginning Tuesday night. They hope that series won’t be a farewell for the team in 2013.

A-Rod helps Yankees to a ‘grand’ victory

The Yankees keep coming off the mat. After a 4-6 trip that included two losses in three games to the last-place Blue Jays, the Yankees opened the final homestand of the season in a big way with a 5-1 victory over the Giants, who are trying to stay out of last place the year after winning the World Series.

The matchup of a pair of former Cy Young Award winners, CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum, had the potential to be a riveting a game, which it was for six innings. The Yankees broke it open in the bottom of the seventh on a record-breaking grand slam by Alex Rodriguez. Lincecum was out of the game by then, but he had put the three runners A-Rod drove home on base. Hitting Brendan Ryan with a pitch was a huge blunder by Lincecum. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s failure to complete a double play on a grounder to third by J.R. Murphy kept the inning alive, and Lincecum dug himself in deeper by walking Ichiro Suzuki.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy replaced Lincecum at that point by George Kontos, who may be a familiar name to Yankees fans. The righthander was the Yankees’ fifth-round draft choice out of Northwestern University in 2006 and pitched in seven games for them in 2011. He went to the Giants in April 2012 in the trade for catcher Chris Stewart.

Rodriguez, who had one hit in his previous 25 at-bats, was certainly overdue. He batted. 182 on the trip but did have two home runs. A-Rod drove a 2-1 fastball to right field that made a 1-1 game 5-1 Yankees lead that held up in the steady hands of David Robertson in the eighth and Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation in the ninth.

The 654th career home run for Rodriguez was his 24th with the bases loaded. That broke the tie he had for most grand slams with Lou Gehrig. This was one of those records I thought when I was a kid would never be broken.

Of course, I thought the same thing about Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 games, Babe Ruth’s home run records for one season (60) and career (714), Ty Cobb’s stolen-base marks for one season (96) and career (897), Cobb’s career standard for hits (4,189) and George Sisler’s mark for hits in a season (257).

They are all gone.

This was a record set not in some obscure game in the middle of the season but during a game in the last week for a team that is trying to win a playoff spot under increasingly difficult odds.

Sabathia bounced back after two straight losses with one of his best games of the season. This was a tight game for nearly all the time he was in it. He gave up seven hits and three walks but was helped by a couple of double plays. The Yanks turned a third double play in the eighth behind Robertson after he entered the game following a leadoff single off Sabathia.

The Yankees still need some help from other teams to make their way through this wild-card maize, but for one night at least they helped themselves.

Behind the 8-ball, Yanks erupt in the 8th

For seven innings Wednesday night, it looked like “second verse same as the first” for the Yankees, who were shut out Tuesday night by the Blue Jays and were six outs from having that happen again at a time when losing is not an option if the Bombers want to take that wild-card ticket into the playoffs.

Toronto lefthander J.A. Happ took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning but was removed after giving up a leadoff double to Brendan Ryan. Even with the emphasis on bullpens, there is nothing more welcome to opposing hitters than the departure of a starting pitcher whom they have not solved all night.

The Happ-less Blue Jays were hapless as the Yankees struck for four runs on three straight RBI hits off reliever Steve Delabar (5-5) and knocked off Toronto, 4-3, with Mariano Rivera coming through with a four-out save.

Delabar entered the game after lefthander Aaron Loup allowed a single to Curtis Granderson that gave the Yankees runners at the corners with none out. Delabar struck out Alex Rodriguez on a nifty changeup, but the righthander did not get another out. Robinson Cano singled to center to send home Ryan with the Yankees’ first run in 17 innings.

Alfonso Soriano doubled to make the score 3-2. Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have gone to a left-handed batter, Lyle Overbay or Ichiro Suzuki, to bat for Vernon Wells, but he stayed with him and Wells came through with a double to left to put the Yankees in front.

Whereas Toronto’s bullpen came apart, the Yankees’ pen was a key to the victory. David Huff took over for Phil Hughes one out in the fourth after Colby Rasmus belted a two-run home run into the second deck of right field at Rogers Centre. Huff (3-1) gave up another second-deck homer, to Ryan Goins (the first of his career), but the lefthander retired the next 10 batters in order.

The eighth-inning rally by the Yankees set up the last two innings perfectly for them with David Robertson and Rivera plenty rested to finish things off. Girardi was just as quick to lift D-Rob as he was for Hughes in calling for Mo with two outs and a runner on second base. The skipper was in no mood for one of Robertson’s Houdini acts. Girardi wanted the sure thing, which is what he is used to getting from Rivera.

The Blue Jays created some drama when Adam Lind and Rasmus started the ninth with singles. Pinch hitter Munenori Kawasaki got off a lousy sacrifice attempt and Overbay cut down the lead runner at third base. Mo took care of the rest of it by getting Goins on a grounder to second and striking out J.P. Arencibia on three pitches.

It remains very much an uphill climb for the Yankees, but they avoided a major slide to stay on the incline.

Lend support to D-Rob for Clemente Award

David Robertson will represent the Yankees as one of the 30 club finalists for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which recognizes a major league player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

The Clemente Award pays tribute to his achievements and character by recognizing current players who understand the value of helping others. The 15-time All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

David and his wife, Erin founded High Socks for Hope (a 501c3 nonprofit corporation) after tornadoes devastated his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011. High Socks for Hope’s mission is to lend support to charities and organizations helping those affected by tragedies and provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.

In addition to helping residents of Tuscaloosa, High Socks for Hope has provided aid to those affected by the May 20, 2013, tornado in Moore, Okla., as well as individuals in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. To help raise money for those in Tuscaloosa, Robertson donated $100 for every strikeout he recorded throughout the 2011-2012 seasons. The righthander racked up 181 strikeouts over the stretch. He has continued his pledge in the 2013 season for the residents of Moore.

In June of this year, the Robertsons teamed up with volunteers from NBTY Helping Hands to help welcome home families displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The Robertsons delivered and unloaded new furniture for four families in Far Rockaway, Queens, and made an additional donation to help furnish homes for six other families in the Far Rockaway area.

The Yankees will recognize D-Rob’s nomination for this year’s Clemente Award with an on-field ceremony Friday prior to their 7:05 p.m. game against the Giants.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, fans may participate in the process of selecting the national Roberto Clemente Award winner by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 club nominees. Voting ends Sunday, Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2013 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced. The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

Yankees players who have received the Clemente Award were Ron Guidry in 1984, Don Baylor in 1985 and Derek Jeter in 2009. Others who played for the Yankees but won the award while with other clubs were Phil Niekro with the Braves in 1980, Dave Winfield with the Twins in 1994 and Al Leiter with the Mets in 2000. Leiter’s broadcast partner in the YES Network booth, Ken Singleton, won the award in 1982 with the Orioles.

Among the other winners are Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn. Last year’s winner was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Yanks accept gift-wrapped victory from Orioles

The Yankees did what they needed to do by winning three of four games at Baltimore, which was to leap-frog over the Orioles in the American League wild-card chase. The Yanks remain one game behind (two in the loss column) to the Rays but put the Orioles in their rearview mirror by 1 ½ games.

Thursday night’s 6-5 victory was an out-and-out gift, but they’ll take it. It was gift-wrapped by Baltimore’s closer, Jim Johnson, who was not in a save situation as the score was 5-5 when he took the mound in the top of the ninth. Johnson got off to a rocky start by giving up a single to .189-hitting Brendan Ryan, who had not been able to buy a hit in his first two games with the Yankees.

Johnson next threw away a sure out when Chris Stewart sacrificing bunted the ball directly back to the reliever, who had a clear shot at forcing Ryan at second base – until he threw the ball into center field. Curtis Granderson bunted successfully to advance the runners with Alex Rodriguez coming up. Johnson then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Ryan to break the tie.

Rodriguez was eventually walked intentionally and Alfonso Soriano grounded into an inning-ending double play. But the damage was done, and Mariano Rivera with a scoreless ninth made sure that the Orioles paid for it.

This game was on the verge of being a major downer for the Yankees when the O’s came back from being down 5-2 in the eighth to tie the score on Danny Valencia’s three-run home run off David Robertson, who pitched so poorly that inning that the official scorer in his discretion did not credit him with the winning decision after the Yankees went ahead in the ninth.

That decision, which I did not agree with by the way, cost Rivera his 44th save since he was awarded the victory instead. Call it a victory or call it a save, it was the third straight rescue effort by Mo in the series.

Soriano might get partial credit for saving the game as well. His fence-climbing, one-handed grab of a drive by Manny Machado at the start of the eighth robbed the third baseman of what appeared a sure home run. Things just got worse for D-Rob as he gave up singles to Adam Jones and Nick Markakis and the homer to Valencia on a first-pitch fastball. J.J. Hardy followed with a double that put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position, but Robertson ended the inning by striking out Matt Wieters.

Official scorer Mark Jacobson used the rule that a pitcher can be denied a victory if his performance is “brief and ineffective.” No one could argue that Robertson was effective, however, there was nothing about his relief outing that could be considered brief. He pitched to seven batters and got three outs, including a crucial third out with a runner in scoring position. As shabby as the inning was for Robertson, I am not sure the official scorer’s ruling was fair.

But all of that is mere paperwork as far as the Yankees are concerned. No matter what pitcher was credited with the victory, it belonged to the whole team and was a nice springboard for the trip to Boston.

Tattered pen can’t prevent Bosox onslaught

Now you know why it was so important for the Yankees to get quality starts from Ivan Nova and Andy Pettitte in the first two games of the four-game series against the Red Sox. The Yankees were relying on the back end of the bullpen to get them through the third game. After Nova had his briefest outing (four innings) Thursday night and Pettitte turned an 8-3 lead over to the bullpen Friday night with the relievers blowing both games, the Yankees had to turn to a trio of late-season Triple A call-ups to navigate through one of the toughest lineups in the league.

The result naturally was disastrous. David Huff, who had pitched well in relief since Aug. 16 (two earned runs in 16 innings) termed his 3 1/3-inning outing Saturday “terrible.” No one would dispute it. He hit just about every bat in the Boston order and allowed nine earned runs and eight hits, including two home runs. Jim Miller, summoned after Scranton’s season was over, could not stem the tide as the Red Sox dusted him off for three runs and three hits, one a home run, in 1 1/3 innings. Only Brett Marshall, who entered the game with the Yankees down 12-3 in the fifth, was the one bright light with 4 1/3 serviceable innings in which he yielded one run and three hits.

The Yankees’ offense put up a good fight in the 13-9 loss. Their 12 hits were spread among nine players. They cut the deficit to three runs at one point. The problem was that point was the eighth inning. When Mike Napoli took Marshall deep in the ninth, somehow it seemed to shut the door. Napoli, who has feasted off Yankees pitching all year (.404, four doubles, seven home runs, 23 RBI in 12 games and 57 at-bats), is 7-for-12 (.583) with a double, three homers and eight RBI in this series.

The Red Sox came to town after slugging eight home runs in one game and have continued the power surge with eight homers in the series. Boston starter John Lackey, who has had the worst run support for an American League starting pitcher this year, could not seem to handle the burst of offense but ended up with the victory despite giving up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The Yankees knew coming in that the bullpen is in tatters. David Robertson will be out another several days because of right shoulder tendinitis. Boone Logan has an inflamed left biceps that will shelve him for at least three days, and Shawn Kelley has been unavailable due to a strained right triceps.

On top of that, the Yankees lost shortstop Derek Jeter for who knows how long. Manager Joe Girardi pulled the captain when he saw him running tentatively on his left leg. Jeter also had trouble planting his surgical left ankle in the sixth and threw the ball past first baseman Lyle Overbay on an infield single by Jonny Gomes. DJ was sent for a CT scan, which the Yankees said was negative. Nevertheless, they sent the results to Charlotte, N.C., surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson, who performed the operation on Jeter’s ankle last October.

Let’s be honest, the Yankees were going to have a tough time trying to catch the first-place Red Sox in the AL East. The Bombers were eight games behind when the series began, but their spirits were high as they hoped to do their rivals some damage. The Red Sox have pushed the Yankees 11 games back in historic if somewhat dubious fashion. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that this is the first time in franchise history that the Yankees lost three games in a row when they scored at least seven runs in each game.

It has been clear for some time that the Yankees’ only path to the postseason is through a wild-card berth. Thanks to a current bumpy stretch by the Rays, the Yanks remain in contention there, but their losses to Boston have allowed the Orioles, Indians and even the Royals to encroach their space.

Considering the state of the bullpen, Hiroki Kuroda will have to be awfully good Sunday to avoid an embarrassing sweep at Yankee Stadium to the Red Sox.

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