Where is the 2011 David Robertson?
The 2012 version is similar in name only.
Last night, the Baltimore Orioles hit like their Beltway buddy Washington Nationals slamming six homers off Yankee pitchers in a dominant 10-6 victory. I'll give you that Robin Ventura is the Rookie Manager of the Year, but there should be no doubt in any observer's mind that Buck Showalter is the Manager of the Year. As Red Sox owner John Henry told Tom Verducci in (another) brilliant piece for Sports Illustrated in describing his embarrassing Red Sox, “What appeared to be an outlier month in September 2011 turned out to be a harbinger instead.” The same thing could be said for Showalter's Orioles who went 15-13 last September including taking five-of-seven from the Dead Sox and playing the Yankees and the Rays even.
In the opener of a four-game set in sold out Baltimore last night, the Orioles had built a 6-1 lead against Yankee starter David Phelps (the fact that Phelps started last night for NY spoke volumes) but after Orioles starter Jason Hammel left the game (in his first start since coming off the DL, Hammel gave up just one run and six hits in five-plus innings) the Yankees scored five times in the 8th surrounding a few key hits around four walks.
So, with the score tied 6-6 entering the bottom of the 8th, the 2012 version of David Robertson entered the game.
The Yankees certainly can't complain that with Mariano Rivera lost for the season, Rafael Soriano has done an outstanding job as the team's closer replacement, leapfrogging Robertson from his 2011 7th inning role when the Yanks featured a last three-inning trio known as "So-Ro-Mo." And had Robertson performed in a fashion similar to his brilliant 2011 season, the Yankees would have been able to get away with surviving the loss of Mo. But Robertson has been a different pitcher.
I can't help but stare at the one homer that the 2011 Robertson surrendered in 66.2 innings and think about the two homers that the 2012 Robertson surrendered while facing three Orioles last night, retiring none of them as Baltimore scored four times to wrap up the 10-6 win. Last season in the 7th through 9th innings, batters hit .175 aginst Robertson, this season the number is 50 points higher and while a .225 average may sound good it's already resulted in five more runs surrendered in 15 fewer appearances.
Check out the cool blue of Robertson in 2011
Now look at the "hotter" 2012 Robertson
Here's what Robertson's two homers and a single looks like
The Yankees aren't tied with the Orioles just because of David Robertson, in fact how much complaining can you do about a guy who is one of the four relievers who has pitched at least 100 innings since the start of 2011 and has an ERA of under 2.00.
But it's September and there is no room for error for any contending team. The Yankees had battled back to tie the game and they looked for the 2011 David Robertson and he just wasn't there.
If the interlocking NY wants to see the postseason, they better send out search party for that guy because they need all the help they can get.