Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Mlb-yankees-dodgers-june

It was a really big deal when, on Tuesday, the Orioles beat the Blue Jays and the Yankees lost to the Rays, causing a tie atop the AL East standings. Just weeks earlier, the Yankees had had a ten-game advantage, and losing that kind of edge — to the Orioles! — was unimaginable. Then, Wednesday, the Orioles lost to the Blue Jays and the Yankees beat the Rays, restoring for New York a slim lead. So it was a really big deal when, on Thursday, the Orioles beat the Yankees in Baltimore in a series opener, tying the division once more. The Orioles clearly aren’t going to go away, and while we can’t actually know that, it sounds good, and it gets people amped for the stretch run.

Those who didn’t follow along will see that the Orioles beat the Yankees 10-6. In so doing, the Orioles slugged a half-dozen home runs, and remember that the game was not played in Yankee Stadium. Those who have taken a closer look, or those who watched, will see that the Orioles pulled ahead in the bottom of the eighth after the Yankees staged a massive rally in the upper half. A 6-1 game turned into a 6-6 game, which turned into a 10-6 game. After the Yankees tied it up, they probably felt good about handing the ball to David Robertson. Minutes later, they felt a lot worse.

We all know Robertson for being a terrific reliever. He was posting silly strikeout rates before every reliever in baseball started posting silly strikeout rates. A year ago Robertson was an All-Star, and he picked up some votes for the AL Cy Young and the AL MVP, and while those voting processes are flawed and while Robertson obviously never stood a chance to win either award, he was dominant. He remains pretty dominant. Robertson strikes out roughly a third of all the batters he faces.

Last year, Robertson faced 272 batters and he allowed one of them to hit a home run. J.J. Hardy, on August 29. Last night, Robertson faced three batters and he allowed two of them to hit home runs. Allow me to summarize David Robertson‘s 13-pitch appearance in Baltimore Thursday night:

-David Robertson relieves Justin Thomas
-Adam Jones homers
-Matt Wieters singles
-Mark Reynolds homers
-Boone Logan relieves David Robertson

That’s a disaster, as 6-6 turned into 9-6 in an inning and a game of incredible significance. Jones’ solo shot to lead off broke the tie that had just been established moments earlier, and here’s what Jones had to say about that:

”That’s the biggest hit I’ve ever had in my life. Everything else up to this point has been leading up to this,” he said.

We don’t have to take this further — Robertson showed up, and Robertson was bad, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your loyalties. But we’re going to anyway because that’s what we do here. Not only did Jones homer; he homered in a 1-and-2 count. Not only did Wieters single; he singled in an 0-and-2 count. Not only did Reynolds homer; he homered in a 3-and-2 count. David Robertson got to two strikes on all three batters he faced, and he put none of them away. This is David Robertson, who accidentally strikes out his neighbors when he goes to make coffee.

What went wrong for Robertson? It turns out it’s very uncomplicated. The 0-and-2 pitch he threw to Wieters was actually a fine pitch, a high and tight fastball right where Robertson wanted it to be. Wieters just did a good job of hitting it. Robertson’s final pitches to Jones and Reynolds, however, were mistakes, and bad ones. Let’s examine.

Jones first, obviously. Robertson got ahead with two quick strikes, then a curveball slipped out of his hand and sailed over Jones’ head to the backstop. Still, Robertson was ahead in the count, and catcher Russell Martin had an idea:

Martin wanted Robertson to come with a high fastball, above Jones’ belt. It would look good to Jones on the way in, like high fastballs do, but in theory he’d swing under it or behind it. Robertson’s perceived fastball velocity is already through the roof on account of his stride length. The perceived velocity of high fastballs is only greater. The plan seemed sound; the execution was suspect.

The red dot is where Martin wanted the pitch to be. The baseball is where the baseball wound up. Robertson missed badly, such that he threw a 1-and-2 fastball at the thigh over the inner half of the plate. Jones destroyed it and the Orioles were again out in the lead.

Wieters followed with a single. That brought the scorching Reynolds to the plate, and the count ran full. You only have so many options as a catcher in a full count in a close game, as you usually don’t want to call for something out of the zone. Martin settled on an idea.

Fastball, at the knees, on the outer edge. Of the four quadrants of the strike zone, pitchers love to target the quadrant down and away, because that’s where most hitters have the least success. Robertson would’ve loved for this fastball to go where it was supposed to go, but it didn’t. It went somewhere else, somewhere way worse.

Again, red dot is intent, and baseball location is baseball location. I thought about inserting a Gameday still to further drive home the laughable location of this pitch, because it was just right down the middle, but I’m not going to do that. I don’t think it’s necessary. Just recognize that this was a fastball right down the very middle of the strike zone. Robertson didn’t miss his spotcompletely, but he missed his spot in the worst possible way, and Reynolds took him deep. Earlier, the Orioles took the lead, and here, the Orioles got their insurance.

That’s the story of how David Robertson came apart and the Orioles took their lead right back. Now then, one thing we have to recognize is that not every hittable pitch gets hit or hit hard. Pitchers very frequently get away with mistakes, because hitters are not automatic. Another thing we have to recognize is that pitchers miss their spots all of the time. I love looking at before/after pitch-location images, and I’m constantly watching the catchers’ gloves during games. Once you see how often pitchers miss, you can’t un-see it. Pitchers miss, and Robertson missed.

But Robertson missed badly, at the wrong times in the wrong game, and it’s uncharacteristic of Robertson to struggle. Many have probably been wondering how what happened happened, and this is how it happened. Robertson’s a great reliever, but not because of his two-strike fastballs near the middle of the plate.

Incidentally, this is probably one of the reasons why Catcher ERA doesn’t really show anything. Catchers can call for what pitches they want, and what locations they want, but the pitchers have to approve the pitches, and then the pitchers are the ones responsible for where the baseball actually goes. The catchers can give them an idea but the catcher can’t make the pitcher hit his target. Russell Martin was David Robertson’s catcher last night, but don’t go blaming Martin for Robertson getting torched. Martin’s ideas were fine. That’s all that they were.

For both teams, there are 25 games left in the regular season, and the Orioles and Yankees have the same record. It’s not all because of David Robertson, but Robertson wishes he didn’t suck against the Orioles more strongly than he ever has in his life.


MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence does Louisville chant at game

Did Bret Bielema do ‘Horns Down’ gesture?

Devils unveil unique coaching by committee situation

Report: 49ers expect Jim Harbaugh to take Michigan job

Report: Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment

Duke Johnson's mother says son will enter NFL Draft

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Starlin Castro questioned following nightclub shooting

Report: Jeff Driskel thinking about transfer to Duke

Browns suspend Josh Gordon for final game of season

Report: Rex Ryan has already cleaned out his office

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Report: Jim Harbaugh to Michigan is done deal

WATCH: Frank Beamer busts a move after bowl win

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by Huskers players?

WATCH: Rory McIlroy trolled by 'Sweet Caroline' song

Auburn, Wisconsin players literally ate tons of food

Did Kobe Bryant respond to heckler with the rings count?

Doug Fister bought Starbucks for his Twitter followers

DeMarco Murray dumped over cheating accusations?

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Harbaugh to Mich. is done deal

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence supports Louisville with chant

Did Bielema do ‘Horns Down’?

WATCH: Beamer busts a move

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by players?

Johnny Manziel fined by Browns

Castro questioned after shooting

Rory McIlroy trolled with 'Sweet Caroline'

Browns suspend Josh Gordon

Kobe gives heckler the rings count?

Murray dumped over cheating scandal?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.