CLEVELAND — Joe Girardi didn’t ask David Robertson to go 3 ²/₃ innings like he did in the wild-card win over the Twins last Tuesday, but the right-hander’s performance in the Yankees’ 5-2 win over the Indians in Game 5 of the ALDS was pretty close.
This time, Robertson came in the bottom of the fifth to take over for CC Sabathia, who faltered quickly in the fifth after four dominant innings.
And once again, Robertson delivered.
Asked to protect a one-run lead with one out and two runners on, Robertson got the dangerous Francisco Lindor to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Yankees ahead.
He then retired the side in order in the sixth, getting Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez on groundouts before Edwin Encarnacion flied to center.
And with his faith in Dellin Betances clearly eroded, Girardi tasked Robertson to go back out for the seventh, with Monday’s Game 4 hero, Tommy Kahnle, stirring in the bullpen.
Robertson was strong again, fanning Carlos Santana and Austin Jackson before walking Jay Bruce — who had homered off Robertson to tie Game 2, which the Indians won in 13 innings.
He followed the walk to Bruce by getting Roberto Perez on a slow grounder back to the mound.
The 2 ²/₃-inning outing allowed Girardi to go straight to Aroldis Chapman to start the bottom of the eighth, avoiding Betances, as well as Chad Green, who hasn’t pitched since giving up the grand slam to Lindor that got the Indians back into Game 2.
“I’m giving everything I’ve got,” said Robertson, who won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and came back to The Bronx at the trade deadline, acquired from the White Sox. “I just want to play. I don’t throw up numbers like I used to, I don’t throw as hard as I used to, but I’ve been around a while and I know how to get people out.”
What had been a tremendous strength of the Yankees has been somewhat depleted by the ineffectiveness of Betances, as well as the heavy workload of Robertson, Green, Kahnle and Chapman.
But Robertson showed an ability to bounce back Wednesday to help the Yankees advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2012, where they will face the Astros.
What kind of bullpen Girardi is working with at that point remains to be seen, but Robertson is a major reason they’ll be there.
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