NEW YORK >> Accustomed to entering in the ninth inning, David Robertson heard the bullpen phone ring in the fourth and knew he might be replacing CC Sabathia.
An accomplished closer with 132 saves, Robertson relieved in the fifth and pitched a career-long 2 2/3 innings that helped the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Monday night in the start of a series moved from Florida to Citi Field because of Hurricane Irma.
“I don’t care when I pitch,” said the 32-year-old right-hander, reacquired by the Yankees from the Chicago White Sox in July. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get us back in the playoffs and gives us a chance to get another ring.”
The victory moved the Yankees within 3 games of the Red Sox, who were idle.
Todd Frazier capitalized on Trevor Plouffe’s two-out error with a three-run homer in a five-run fourth inning , and Jacoby Ellsbury broke Pete Rose’s major league record by reaching base on catcher’s interference for the 30th time.
Opening a stretch that has 17 of their final 20 games in New York, the Yankees closed within three games of Boston in the AL East and opened a four-game lead over Minnesota for the top AL wild card.
Sabathia allowed one run and six hits in 4 1/3 innings and was removed with two on and Evan Longoria at the plate.
“He’s hitting about .900 off me,” Sabathia said.
Actually, only .421 with eight homers in 76 at-bats before Longoria grounded out twice in the first three innings.
“He got him twice, and I didn’t feel like pressing my luck,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi…
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