It has only been two games, but so far we can chalk one up for the "closer mentality" people. In trying to take over as closer for Mariano Rivera, new Yankees closer David Robertson is off to a rough start.
Tuesday night, Robertson allowed two walks and a hit, but he escaped unscathed, as he struck Carlos Pena out with the bases loaded to end the game.
Wednesday night, he wouldn't be so fortunate. Two singles and walk opened the inning before Robertson again struck Pena out. But then B.J. Upton hit a sac fly and Robertson had blown the save. And Matt Joyce followed that up with a go-ahead, three-run homer -- and appeared to tweak his ankle on the swing, by the way. The Yankees would lose, 4-1.
It will be interesting to see how the New York media and fans react if Robertson's struggles continue even for just a few more outings. Remember, they've been spoiled with the best closer in the history of baseball since John Wetteland was the closer. Sure, there were injury issues in 2002 -- Steve Karsay collected 12 saves, Mike Stanton six and Ramiro Mendoza four -- but Rivera kept coming back and wasn't gone for extended stretches. We're talking about replacing him for more than 80 percent of this season this time around.
Now, I'm still confident Robertson's track record screams ninth-inning success eventually. His stuff and numbers are just too good to not translate simply because he's pitching a different inning. If there is a such thing as a "closer's mentality," he'll develop it soon enough.
But here's my problem with the straight-numbers crowd that won't admit there is a mentality to the game: Robertson rarely has two shaky outings in a row. Isn't there the slightest possibility that he was daunted by replacing the great Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning? C'mon, don't be so arrogant, you can admit it's possible nerves played a factor and still wear that SABR hat again. He's not a machine, he's a man!
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