BOSTON — Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium couldn’t have gone any better. However, his walk-off heroics also wouldn’t have occurred without David Robertson’s blown save.
Robertson allowed three runs in the ninth inning Thursday as the Baltimore Orioles tied the game 5-5. The hiccup briefly threw a wrench into the New York Yankees’ plans for Jeter’s farewell, but it ultimately created a fairytale ending to the shortstop’s career in the Bronx.
“No, I have not had a chance to talk to (Robertson). But he did a great job,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi joked before Friday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Robertson has been solid as the Yankees’ closer, racking up 38 saves in New York’s first season without Mariano Rivera. It was shocking to see the right-hander surrender two ninth-inning homers, especially given what else was transpiring at Yankee Stadium.
While everything worked out in the end, Girardi actually dodged a bullet. Some wondered whether Girardi would remove Jeter in the middle of the ninth as a way to honor the captain’s final game in New York, but the skipper stuck to the original plan, which had been conceptualized by longtime Yankees equipment manager Rob Cucuzza. Jeter was to be greeted by several former teammates — Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez — and former Yankees manager Joe Torre upon exiting the field following the final out.
If Girardi removed Jeter in the ninth, it obviously would have put a damper on the evening. Instead, baseball fans were treated to Jeter’s walk-off single, which will go down in history as an iconic moment.
“Can you imagine how much trouble I would have been in if that happened?,” Girardi said Friday of potentially removing Jeter before Steve Pearce’s game-tying blast. “That was never in the plans, so it never really entered my mind. I’m glad I didn’t do it.
“The idea basically was for (Torre and Jeter’s former teammates) to meet him, let him walk first off the field after all the embraces, and then down the tunnel, and then they were going to follow,” Girardi added. “And I thought, that’s a great way. It’s time, Derek feels it’s time and the buddies that he played with and the manager that coached him for so long. He’s kind of following in our footsteps. But it ended better.”
Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium ended perfectly. The dominoes fell the appropriate way.
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