Yankees' injury jinx finally hits imploding bullpen
Anthony RieberAnthony Rieber
Anthony Rieber has been at Newsday since Aug. 31, 1998
It's a great thing for Matt Daley that he was the most effective reliever for the Yankees Friday night.
It is not, however, a great thing for the Yankees.
Who is Matt Daley? He is a 31-year-old righthander from Garden City who got called up to the major leagues at 4 p.m. Friday and made his Yankees debut Friday night with a scoreless ninth inning.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, four other relievers preceded Daley and allowed nine runs in two innings to erase a five-run lead in a 12-8 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
It was the second straight night the bullpen let a win get away. On Thursday, Mariano Rivera blew the save with two outs in the ninth and Joba Chamberlain gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th after the Yankees battled back from a five-run deficit with a six-run seventh.
How many of these soul-crushing defeats can the Yankees take before their wild-card hopes are extinguished?
Before you answer, consider that three of the Yankees' top four relievers -- David Robertson, Boone Logan and Shawn Kelley -- are injured.
The only one still standing is the 43-year-old Rivera.
Robertson has shoulder tendinitis and is out five to six days, according to manager Joe Girardi. Logan -- who surrendered a game-tying grand slam to Mike Napoli in the seventh -- is going to have an MRI Saturday for a sore left biceps.
Kelley has been down with a sore right triceps. He is going to attempt a bullpen session Saturday in hopes of returning Sunday. "That's the best case," he said.
What's happened the last two nights is just about the worst case for the Yankees. It's as if the season-long injury curse finally has made its way to the bullpen. Perhaps that's a fitting way for things to end if they don't make the playoffs.
"We've been dealing with this all year long," Girardi said. "It's a chance for other guys to step up."
Friday night, no one stepped up once Andy Pettitte departed after six innings and 100 pitches with the Yankees leading 8-3.
The Yankees' bullpen was as short as a stack of pancakes. Unavailable because of overwork: Rivera. Unavailable because of injury: Robertson and Kelley.
Available because he had been so darn ineffective as a starter: Phil Hughes. But Hughes did little to make the Yankees think he can help them as a reliever, even in desperate times.
Hughes recorded one out and let in a run on three singles and a walk, leaving with the bases loaded. Logan struck out David Ortiz, but Napoli launched a 3-and-2 pitch to right. Ichiro Suzuki drifted back to the short porch, leaped and did not catch what turned out to be a grand slam.
Logan stood with his hands on his head. Napoli raised his right arm in triumph as he rounded first.
One out later, Logan walked off the mound injured. He was replaced by Preston Claiborne, who got out of the inning but gave up a two-run home run to Shane Victorino in the eighth to make it 10-8.
In came Joba Chamberlain, who allowed two more runs in the inning.
"It exploded on us," Pettitte said.
Even with an expanded roster, Girardi has only so many arms out there. That's why Daley got the call and scrambled to get to the Stadium from Hoboken, where he lives, and was on the mound in the ninth.
"Hit a bunch of traffic on the way here," Daley said. "And I was in the game in the ninth inning. It was a pretty whirlwind experience."
Great for him. Not so great for the Yankees.