MILWAUKEE -- It is a play, Brendan Ryan said, that he makes 100 out of 100 times.
"At least," he added, with a rueful laugh. "And of course, that’s the one that gets you. But I’ll turn the page pretty quick."
Not that he will get the chance anytime soon. A part-time player valued mostly for his glove does himself no favors, and makes no friends with management, by botching a routine two-out grounder -- especially with a pitcher who seems always to be walking a tightrope above disaster in every start.
Ryan's error on Jean Segura's grounder is not the reason the Yankees lost, 5-4, to the Brewers on Saturday night. But it certainly exposed the already-vulnerable CC Sabathia to more danger than he could afford to face, and before you knew it the Brewers had turned what should have been a scoreless third inning into a three-run windfall.
"It just rips your heart out," Ryan said. "CC was starting to cruise there for a minute, and then the next thing you know, it costs you three [runs]. It feels pretty awful. Big difference in the game. We rallied, but take those three runs away, we probably didn’t need to."
Ryan, who spent most of spring training and all of April on the disabled list with a nerve injury in his upper back, got his first start of the season because Joe Girardi decided to give Derek Jeter a day off. Ryan had two hits, including a hard single on the first pitch he saw from Kyle Lohse, but as Girardi said before the game, "A shortstop’s first responsibility is always defense."
"I just didn’t get it in the right part of the glove," Ryan said. "You get it in one spot, and it just comes right on out. I didn’t catch it in my web enough, and it’s just a physical mistake, really."
Girardi and Sabathia were quick to absolve Ryan of blame.
"You've got to pick your guys up," Sabathia said of his failure to get the third out before giving up two huge home runs to Jonathan Lucroy and Aramis Ramirez. "They pick me up all the time and unfortunately I just wasn't able to make the pitch right there."
"It was maybe a little rust. I don’t know," said Girardi, noting Ryan had played just one inning, as a defensive replacement for Jeter, since being reinstated to the roster on Monday. "It’s frustrating, but sometimes you have to pick up your fielders, too."
Betances the only bright spot: Girardi pulled Sabathia with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning. And with Shawn Kelley unavailable for a second straight day due to lower back stiffness, Girardi turned to young Dellin Betances, who has a wicked repertoire (96-mph fastball, sharp downward breaking curve), but also a penchant for wildness.
"I just feel like Joe Girardi using me in that situation, and certain situations I've gotten used, just shows the confidence they have in me," Betances said. "I believe in myself and I trust that if I'm out there throwing strikes, I can do the job. And now I feel like he's trusting me more and more, each and every time."