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David Robertson, the relief pitcher who is closing out games for the Yankees in the absence of the injured Mariano Rivera, couldn’t escape a bases-loaded jam last night as New York lost 4-1 at home to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Robertson filled the bases in the ninth inning and allowed four runs for his first blown save and first loss of the season. The four-run inning came one day after Robertson got his first save of the season by striking out Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena with the bases loaded to end the game.
“It feels terrible, I blew it,” Robertson told reporters. “Tomorrow can’t come fast enough. I can’t wait to get another chance.”
Robertson, who had been a setup man for Rivera until the Major League Baseball career saves leader injured his knee, came into the game with the Yankees leading 1-0 following eight scoreless innings by four New York pitchers.
Sean Rodriguez opened the Rays’ ninth with a single. Pinch- hitter Brandon Allen also singled before Ben Zobrist walked. Robertson, who entered the game by holding opponents to a career .159 average with the bases loaded in the regular season, then struck out Pena for the first out.
B.J. Upton followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game and Matt Joyce hit a three-run homer to right field.
They were the first runs allowed this season by Robertson, whose 26 1/3-inning regular-season scoreless stretch was the longest by a Yankee since Rivera had a 30 2/3-inning scoreless streak in 1999.
“He’s going to be fine,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon told reporters. “He’s good. We just happened to get to him tonight.”
Rivera yesterday told reporters at Yankee Stadium that he was given blood thinners this week to dissolve a clot in his calf, near the knee injury that ended his season.
Rivera, the career saves leader with 608, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his knee while catching fly balls during batting practice May 3 before a game at Kansas City.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Robertson should not be judged too harshly for one blown save.
“It’s obviously an adjustment any time you move up in a role,” Girardi told reporters. “He’s going to bounce back and I have a ton of confidence in him.”
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