Injuries have altered the ingredients for the bullpen formula Joe Girardi envisioned coming out of spring training, but the unit continues to flourish.
The pair, with some solid work from inconsistent lefthander Boone Logan, proved to be a formidable late-inning punch in the Yankees' 6-4 comeback victory over the Rockies yesterday in front of an Old-Timers' Day crowd of 47,894 at the Stadium.
The Yankees (45-31), who have the best record in the American League and lead the Red Sox by a half-game, took two of three from the Rockies (38-39). They are 8-4 in interleague play, which continues with a three-game series against the Brewers Tuesday night at the Stadium.
"You have to tip your hat to our bullpen," said Nick Swisher, whose two-run homer in the fifth was immediately followed by Jorge Posada's homer as the Yankees tied it at 3. "They really did a great job today."
Yankees relievers, starting with Logan, who came on with one on and none out in the seventh, retired the final nine batters they faced, six on strikeouts. The Yankees are 39-4 when leading after seven innings.
After Eduardo Nuñez's single drove in Chris Dickerson -- who pinch ran for Posada, who had walked and reached second on Troy Tulowitzki's error -- and gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the seventh, Robertson came in for the eighth. "That's the spot he should be in," Swisher said.
Robertson pitched a perfect inning and has allowed one earned run in 171/3 innings in his last 18 games to lower his ERA to 1.15. He has struck out 50 in 311/3 innings.
"He has been huge," said Mark Teixeira, whose 23rd homer gave the Yankees a 6-4 lead in the eighth. "When you can get a lead going into the eighth inning, as a team you want to win that game, you really do. So you want that lock-down eighth-inning guy. We thought we had one in [Rafael] Soriano, and then Joba [Chamberlain]. Two tough injuries, you need a guy like David to step up, and he's done more than we could have ever expected."
Robertson struck out Tulowitzki swinging at a letter-high 92-mph fastball to conclude a 10-pitch at-bat. Jason Giambi grounded to first and Robertson finished the 15-pitch, 12-strike inning by striking out Seth Smith swinging on a 95-mph fastball.
Ty Wigginton had hit two solo home runs and Chris Iannetta had hit one off starter Ivan Nova, but Rivera struck out Wigginton, Charlie Blackmon and Iannetta -- who had picked up six of the Rockies' seven hits between them -- to record his 20th save. Rivera pitched in his 1,010th career game, tying Roberto Hernandez for 12th place on the all-time list.
"We were joking with Mo that he should come out and get between a few of us," Joe Girardi said of the introduction of the Old-Timers earlier in the day. "But Mo's still got some time left, which is great."
Nova wasn't nearly as effective as he had been last Monday, when he held the Reds to one run in eight innings. He gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in six innings Sunday and was not involved in the decision as Logan picked up the win.
But Girardi said the outing was among the best of Nova's season because the righthander had "no fastball command" and had to rely on other pitches -- sometimes a problem this season -- to get through six.
"Even when you don't have your best stuff, you have to keep battling," Nova said.
Which the Yankees did at the plate after rookie righthander Juan Nicasio, making his sixth major-league start, retired the first 13 batters he faced. Robinson Cano broke up the perfect game with a line-drive single to left-center and Swisher followed with his ninth home run. Four pitches later, Posada hit his eighth to tie the score at 3.
After Wigginton's second homer made it 4-3 in the sixth, Alex Rodriguez tied it again with an RBI single in the bottom half.
"Great day," Girardi said. "Starts with the Old-Timers' Game . . . and then we were able to honor Geno where he was completely surprised. Then to win a game like that where we were behind and were able to come back, great game."