I'm going to attempt once again to find a solution for this nightmarish thought that has plagued many Yankee fans. The thought resurfaced last night, when CC Sabathia exited the game with a 4-1 lead and 2 men on and 2 outs in the 9th inning. Joe Girardi called upon David Robertson to get the final out, since Mariano Rivera was unavailable. David Robertson has been the Yankees' most reliable reliever since mid May.
Despite his success lately, Robertson struggled in the 9th. Cringing as I watched through my hands which covered my face, I wondered if he would ever get out of the inning. He surrendered a double and an infield single, and before I knew it, the Yankee lead was cut to 4-3.
With the tying run on 3rd and the winning run on 2nd, Jason Kendall stepped up to the plate. This was serious - so serious, that I covered my face with my hands and my hair. I couldn't watch this. I love David Robertson, but last night, he was no Mariano.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually 8 pitches, Robertson got Kendall to swing and miss at a low curveball, thus averting the crisis. It wasn't pretty in that 9th inning, but I guess I'll take it; a win is a win. Despite everything, David Robertson recorded his first save of the year, and helped CC Sabathia win his league-leading 15th game of the season.
I was a little confused to why Joe Girardi didn't use the Great Mariano Rivera in the 9th. I mean, I know he has pitched a lot recently, but all the Yankees needed was 1 out. I guess it is inevitable...Mariano Rivera is getting old, and he needs his rest. I was happy the Yankees won last night, but I began to get upset after pondering: What are the Yankees going to do when Mariano Rivera retires?
It sickens me to think of the day when someone else has the job of Yankees closer. David Robertson is a very good pitcher, but even he struggled in the 9th inning. He reflected, "That's the hardest out I've had to get in a long time." Later saying, "We don't get another chance to hit if they get a base hit....It's a little more pressure."
One major key to Mariano Rivera's success is that he doesn't feel that 9th inning pressure that so many others experience. And it's not like David Robertson hasn't experienced pressure. Yankee fans will never forget that 11th inning of Game 2 of the ALDS last year against the Twins: David Robertson inherited a bases loaded, none out jam, with the game tied 3-3. And he got out of the inning, without allowing a run. Talk about pressure.
I guess there's just something different about the 9th inning.
The Yankees have plenty of solid Big League relievers, including David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, and sometimes Joba Chamberlain, and are developing some good arms in the Minors such as Andrew Brackman and Ivan Nova. But let's be real: are any of these guys going to be as good as Mariano Rivera?
No. It's impossible. Mariano is from another world.
So on that dreadful day when Mariano Rivera no longer pitches, the Yankees, and their fans will just have to move on. We will never see anyone like Mariano Rivera ever again. The next Yankees closer might actually make things "interesting" in the 9th. Whoever he is, he might actually blow a few games. Whoever he is, he might actually have an ERA over 1.
Whoever he is, I hope we don't have to see him for awhile.
by Virginia Califano
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