Jeter's hit is big relief for Yanks closer Robertson
Captain's walk-off single bails out righty after blown save in ninth inning
NEW YORK -- David Robertson transitioned exceptionally well into the closer's role this year, replacing Mariano Rivera in the Yankees' bullpen. But in Thursday night's wildly emotional 6-5 victory, Roberston unintentionally returned to a familiar role: setup man.
Entering the top of the ninth inning with a three-run lead, it seemed as though Derek Jeter's final at-bat had already taken place in the seventh, and that Robertson would get to close out the Captain's final game at Yankee Stadium. Instead, a two-run homer to Adam Jones and a solo homer to Steve Pearce changed the script.
Soon enough, Jeter would rewrite the happy ending with a signature walk-off single to right field, bailing out Robertson's blown save.
"[I went] from pretty much the all-time low to all-time high," said Robertson. "Thankfully the game was still tied and we weren't losing. So I could live with myself at least a little bit. That was a heartbreaker though to give up two home runs to two good hitters, but it worked out. I was really down, but now I can walk away and go to sleep tonight."
Robertson, however, had done something similar for a previous Jeter milestone.
During the July afternoon Jeter collected his 3,000th hit in 2011, part of a five-hit day for the shortstop, Robertson came in to preserve a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. But Robertson allowed a run to score, setting up Jeter's fifth and go-ahead hit in the bottom of the inning.
"[Rivera] closed it out," Robertson said. "So jokingly, [tonight Mariano] slaps me on the back and says, 'Hey, you're the best setup man in the league, you set him up again.' That's what kind of guy he is. But it was a really hard outing to take at first and then, all in all, we won the game."
In the middle of the ninth, Robertson admitted he went into the tunnel to unleash some anger away from the cameras. Moments later, he saw Jeter had a chance to come up and win it. He watched the hysteria. His frustration quickly turned into elation.
"It kind of seemed like something out of a book," Orioles starter Kevin Gausman said. "We tie it up off their closer, and you kind of look up there and 'Who's coming up to bat? All right, maybe he'll be up with a guy on base.' Sure enough, he comes up and there's a pinch-runner on second base. Just kind of perfect to end up his career here at Yankee Stadium."
On any other night, Robertson might have replayed those pitches to Jones and Pearce over and over in his head. But for once, he could smile, even be grateful, for blowing a lead in the ninth inning.
"It created another Derek Jeter moment," Robertson said. "As much as I wished I wouldn't have created it, I'm glad it happened."