By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Matt Joyce hit a three-run homer off fill-in
closer David Robertson in the ninth inning, falling down on a
twisted ankle as he finished his swing, and the Tampa Bay Rays
rallied to beat the New York Yankees 4-1 on Wednesday night.
In his first chance since taking over for injured star Mariano
Rivera, Robertson escaped a bases-loaded jam to save Tuesday
night’s 5-3 victory over the Rays. But one night later, New York
got a chilling dose of real-life reality without Rivera.
With the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead, Sean Rodriguez singled
through the left side on Robertson’s first pitch and went to third
when pinch-hitter Brandon Allen singled to right on the next
Nick Swisher’s throw to third was over the head of the cutoff
man and Allen raced to second, sliding in safely on a close play
that brought a brief argument from Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Ben Zobrist walked and Carlos Pena, called out on strikes with
the bases full to end Tuesday night’s game, went down looking
again. B.J. Upton, however, lifted a sacrifice fly to right and
Rodriguez scored with a nifty slide to tie it.
That was the first run charged to Robertson (0-1) in 27 outings
since Aug. 29 last year in Baltimore.
Joyce, who struck out earlier with the bases loaded, drove a 1-2
pitch into the first row of seats beyond the short porch in right,
giving Tampa Bay a 4-1 lead. And it appeared it was a painful
Joyce rolled his ankle and went down in the batter’s box, then
got up and trotted gingerly around the bases.
Robertson was an All-Star setup man before Rivera tore a knee
ligament shagging fly balls in batting practice last Thursday in
Kansas City, but now he has a pressure-packed role trying to
replace baseball’s career saves leader and the greatest closer the
game has ever known.
And for the Yankees, they’re just beginning to get used to not
having No. 42 ready in the bullpen for the ninth inning.
Fernando Rodney (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)