NEW YORK -- Another bad loss against a bad team, but don't blame David Robertson.
Yes, Robertson failed to fully replace Mariano Rivera for a night, but he has been a pretty close facsimile for much of the year.
Robertson isn't the problem. He has proven he deserves top closer money. And the Yankees should lock him up this offseason to team him with Dellin Betances for next three or four years, accepting that there will be a few nights a season when Robertson doesn't have it and it ends up with a guy like Chris Carter sending a 3-0 pitch into the night for a three-run blast in the ninth inning to give Houston a 7-4 win.
But it is not Robertson's fault the Yankees lost again and are now four games back for the second wild card. They can't hit. They scored four runs or less for the 80th time. Only the last place Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox have done it more in the AL.
The Yankees' playoff predicament is not because of Robertson, who has matched Rivera for the most part.
Through Aug. 19, 2013, Rivera's ERA was 2.38 in 45 1/3 innings, while his batting average against was .257. He had given up five homers.
In 47 innings, Robertson's ERA is 3.06 -- it was 2.51 before Tuesday's ninth -- but his batting average against is .192. Robertson has allowed four homers.
While Rivera had 36 saves and four blown saves, Robertson has saved 33 and blown just two. (Technically, Tuesday wasn't a save situation.)
"He has been really, really good," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he has been as good as anyone could've expected. I've talked about the pressure that was on him, who he was replacing. He has come in and done a marvelous job."
What hasn't been marvelous, of course, is the offense. On Tuesday night, Brian McCann had a two-run homer and Martin Prado picked up three hits and two RBIs, but the Yankees were 1-for-9 with RISP. They barely have any pop.
"When we came together in spring training, we expected to have a little more thunder," Mark Teixeira said.
Teixeira, when healthy, has done reasonably well with his team-leading 20 homers. Brett Gardner has been the offensive MVP with .444 slugging percentage, best among the regulars. Besides that, the Yankees receive little nightly.
In the eighth, Carlos Beltran didn't come through. Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole a base and moved to third on a throwing error. With one-out and the infield in with the game still tied, Ellsbury was going on contact. Beltran hit a ball right at shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez threw home to nail Ellsbury.
"A step to his right, a step to his left and he scores," said Girardi, with a losing manager's lament. "That is the chance we are going to take with one out."
Working the tie in the ninth, Robertson had a hard time finding the plate. One-out walks to Robbie Grossman and Jose Altuve set up Carter. The Altuve walk was particularly biting because Robertson lost him after being up 0-2. There were some borderline calls.
"I thought he made a good pitch on Altuve, the 2-2 pitch," Girardi said. "He didn't get the call."
Against Carter, though, Robertson earned his 3-0 deficit. Astros manager Bo Porter gave Carter the green light, and he crushed a no-doubt-about-it, three-run jack.
"I tried to make a good pitch, down and away," Robertson said. "Instead, I put it right in his bat path and he put it 30 rows deep."
With it, the Yankees' playoff chances look like they may be going, going ...