Commentary

Boone, Robertson drop ball against O's

Yankees relievers not named Rivera have combined for an underwhelming 5.26 ERA

Updated: April 28, 2010, 2:45 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

BALTIMORE -- It wasn't as if Phil Hughes gave the bullpen a hard task. He handed them a one-run lead with two outs and nobody on in the sixth.

Oh, and it was against the worst team in baseball and the bottom of arguably the worst order in baseball. Easy stuff, right? Wrong.

Boone Logan spilled the gas, David Robertson lit the match and Hughes' victory went up in flames. After the 5-4 loss to the Orioles, the Yankees have lost four of their last five games and there suddenly is an issue with this team.

Getting the ball from the effective starters (and everyone that Curt Schilling doesn't give daily updates about has been really, really good) to Mariano Rivera is what should light up the talk show lines right now.

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
AP Photo/Nick WassDerek Jeter contributed an error in the Yankees' lackluster loss to the Orioles.

The bullpen is not very good, except for No. 42. Guys with the last name of Rivera have thrown seven innings and have yet to give up a run. Relievers not named Rivera have pitched 37 2/3 innings and have a 5.26 ERA. Umm, that's not good.

On Tuesday night, it was Robertson's fault most of all.

"It was pretty frustrating," Robertson said, offering no excuses.

The Orioles are usually the ones frustrated. Their first home win on April 27th was the latest for a team in a decade. But maybe we should take it easy on Baltimore, they are hot. They have won two straight for the first time this year.

Logan and Robertson -- who gave up the three two-out runs in the sixth -- were not alone in the implosion. In the eighth, the Yankees gave up an ugly insurance run as two of the Core Fours (Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada) made errors.

This proved important when the Orioles' tried to flub the game in the ninth, only to see Alfredo Simon induce Alex Rodriguez to strand the tying run at third with a groundout.

Hughes pitched wildly effective, needing 109 pitches to throw 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball, before handing the ball over to a pyrotechnic combination of Logan and Robertson.

Hughes is now unofficially the Yankees' No. 4 starter. Javier Vazquez, Schilling's buddy, is the team's No. 5.

Besides doing the inexcusable in the second, walking in a run -- the ninth-place hitter no less -- Cesar Izturis, on four pitches, Hughes did what good pitchers do. He didn't seem to have it all together, but he did not allow more runs after that.

Girardi said he was "Impressed, because I would say he labored more than just a little bit."

With two outs in the sixth, Girardi had seen enough and went to the bullpen.

Logan quickly walked Luke Scott. That was it for Logan and in came Robertson. Robertson looked so promising last year, especially in the playoffs. This season, he looks as if he may eventually end up in Triple-A if he doesn't get his act together.

Robertson didn't have his control, hitting Ty Wigginton on an 0-2 pitch.

"It's something that shouldn't happen, but it is the human element," Joe Girardi said.

The next three batters, Rhyne Hughes, Nolan Reimold and Cesar Izturis -- the bottom three hitters -- all collected RBI singles. The insurance run in the eighth washed out Hughes' tough outing.

He did it on a cold night that could matter by October. The intensity of Fenway is the ultimate in pennant race baseball. Tampa's young guns are fierce, which makes for cut-throat action.

But the AL East and, for that matter, the wild card could be won or lost here in drab Orioles Park. The Rays and Red Sox have already beaten the Orioles seven of nine times. Beating up the Birds could be what separates first, second and third in the division.

On Tuesday night, the Yankees bullpen was beat-up. They couldn't get to Mo, which is becoming a major issue.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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