<
>

Robertson's failure leads to Jeter's success

NEW YORK -- If there is such a thing as a good blown save, this was it.

David Robertson coughed up a three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning Thursday night. But that gave Derek Jeter one more at-bat at Yankee Stadium and the opportunity to deliver a game-winning hit fans will be talking about for many years to come.

"What can you say? It created another Derek Jeter moment," Robertson said. "And as much as I wished I wouldn't have created it, I'm glad it happened."

The Yankees led the Orioles 5-2 heading into the ninth. Starter Hiroki Kuroda had given the Yanks eight strong innings -- after surrendering back-to-back homers to start the game, he bounced back to fire seven scoreless frames, including retiring 16 in a row from the third through the eighth.

Kuroda had thrown only 95 pitches, but manager Joe Girardi still turned the ball over to Robertson, who had 38 saves and only four blown saves.

Robertson walked Nick Markakis to start the ninth, struck out Alejandro De Aza and then surrendered a two-run blast by Adam Jones into the left-field seats, cutting the Yankees' lead to 5-4.

Nelson Cruz struck out swinging, and Robertson was one out away from putting the Orioles away. But then Steve Pearce launched the first pitch he saw from Robertson, a 91 mph cutter, over the left-field fence as well, tying the game at five.

It was Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium, in front of a sellout crowd of 48,613 -- the largest in the Bronx this season -- but Robertson said nerves were not an issue.

"No more than any other day," Robertson said. "I was just trying to stay focused and not leave any balls over the plate, and it seemed like everything I threw just kept coming right back into the barrel [of the bat]."

Robertson was able to finish the ninth, inducing J.J. Hardy to fly out to center field. After retreating to the clubhouse for a few moments to gather his emotions, he returned to the dugout to watch the bottom of the inning.

He didn't realize what exactly he had set up, so to speak, until he saw Brett Gardner -- due up second, one spot ahead of Jeter -- preparing to bat.

"Once I saw Gardy was putting his helmet on, I was like, 'Oh well, Derek's gonna have a chance, so it's gonna end here soon," Robertson said. "I think everybody in the dugout and the stadium knew it was gonna happen."

Robertson has pitched very well this season, his first as the Yankees' closer -- especially when you consider he replaced the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera.

But he's been overshadowed by All-Star setup man Dellin Betances, and now his first season as closer might be remembered best for a failure in late September.

Nevertheless, it's a game he will remember fondly.

"It definitely felt like the World Series. It was a lot of fun," Robertson said. "I wish I had done better, but I'm glad that we got to win the game in that fashion."