David Robertson saves win over Angels as Mariano Rivera gets night off
There was no fourth consecutive blown save for Mariano Rivera. There was no save for him, either.
Joe Girardi decided to give the 43-year-old closer last night off, instead going with the tag-team combo of Boone Logan and David Robertson to secure, though quite shakily, a 2-1 victory over the Angels.
"We talked to him,'' Girardi said of himself and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. "Larry talked to him and we just felt it would be better to give him the day off.''
Rivera has blown three straight saves -- Wednesday in Chicago against the White Sox and Friday and Sunday against the Tigers. When asked before the game if he would have Rivera available, Girardi said, "I'll see how he feels today.''
Although Rivera's answer was that he was OK, Girardi all but said he chose to basically protect the closer from himself.
"That's where as a pitching coach and a manager, you have to manage the player and understand that sometimes they just need a day,'' said Girardi, whose team won consecutive games for the first time since taking three straight July 10-12. "Whether they want to go out there or not.''
Rivera said he would have pitched but later said of needing a day off: "We all do.''
Hiroki Kuroda (11-7) pitched eight brilliant innings, allowing three hits and no runs in lowering his ERA to 2.33. The 38-year-old righthander isn't in the conversation as an AL Cy Young Award candidate but should be, having entered the night 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA in his previous six starts.
"Hiro's been amazing,'' Robertson said.
In the ninth, Girardi went with Logan, a lefty, to face lefthanded-hitting J.B. Shuck, who shot a single off the bag at first. That elicited a "We want Mo!'' chant from the fans overlooking the Yankees' bullpen.
"That was a little different,'' Robertson said with a laugh. "It's not easy to pitch when the crowd's chanting 'We want Mo,' or when you're warming up, they're saying the same thing. But you just have to deal with it and pitch the game.''
Robertson soon got his chance. After Logan struck out Kole Calhoun, another lefty, Girardi brought in Robertson to face righthanded-hitting Mike Trout. Robertson walked him on a 3-and-2 pitch to further agitate the crowd of 37,146. Josh Hamilton flared a double over the head of Alex Rodriguez, who had a rough night, going 1-for-3 but grounding into two double plays.
That scored Shuck, making it 2-1 and bringing "Mo'' chanting. Trout scampered to third, and Robertson intentionally walked Erick Aybar to load the bases for Mark Trumbo, 0-for-3 to that point.
Robertson, nicknamed Houdini during the Yankees' run to the world championship in 2009, struck out Trumbo on three pitches, but he fell behind Chris Nelson, a teammate earlier in the season, 3-and-1. But Robertson struck out Nelson for his first save of the season and sixth of his career.
"It turned into a really sticky situation,'' he said. "I didn't help myself out much. I just had to dig deep and find a way to get out of it.''
The Angels' Garrett Richards pitched well, allowing two runs and seven hits in eight innings. Brett Gardner, who contributed walk-off hits Friday and Sunday, had an RBI single in the third. Curtis Granderson's third homer, a blast into the second deck in right, made it 2-0 in the seventh.
"Getting there, not there yet,'' Granderson said of his swing. "There's no way to mirror the four months I've missed.''
As for Rivera, he left no doubt about his availability for tonight. "Oh yeah,'' he said. "Yes, sir.''
Notes & quotes: Girardi said Derek Jeter (right calf strain) did tee-and-toss Monday for the first time during his latest rehab and is "making progress.'' But he is still likely headed to Tampa this weekend when the Yankees go to Boston for a three-game series. When asked if he thought it possible to get Jeter back when his 15-day stint on the disabled list is up Sunday, Girardi said, "I'm not sure.'' . . . DH Travis Hafner (right rotator cuff strain) is doing "better,'' Girardi said, but not ready to resume baseball activities.With David Lennon