SAN DIEGO -- The first day as the Padres' unofficial closer, Brandon Maurer was thrown into what he said was the most stressful situation he's been in during his Major League career, as he helped San Diego stave off a late Yankees rally to grab a 7-6 win.
"What should have been going through my mind is, 'Remember to breathe,'" Maurer said after recording his first career save Friday night at Petco Park. "I forgot to I think for a little bit out there. I got so wrapped up in it. But it was exciting."
Maurer entered with two runners on in the top of the ninth inning after Brian McCann had already scored one of four ninth-inning Yankees runs. Maurer allowed an RBI double and an RBI groundout and threw a wild pitch that gave the Yankees another run before getting Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner on groundouts to end the game.
"It's exciting," Maurer said about pitching in that situation in the ninth inning. "It's something I've always wanted to do, so having the chance to do it tonight -- first day into it -- it was good.
"[Hopefully I] keep it less stressful next time."
Friday's game was the first this season in which the Padres didn't have closer Fernando Rodney to go to in these situations, as he was traded to the Miami Marlins on Thursday's off-day.
Maurer began the season as the team's primary setup man, before going through an eight-game stretch at the beginning of June in which he allowed 13 earned runs over seven innings.
In the other 30 2/3 innings this season, Maurer has posted a 3.23 ERA.
While Maurer has been given the first shot at closing games, manager Andy Green said Ryan Buchter would be next in line. Buchter has posted a 2.91 ERA over 34 innings this season, striking out 50 batters and walking 18.
"In an ideal world, you've got someone like Fernando Rodney at the back end of your bullpen closing out games," Green said. "We've got guys who are going to grow into that role, that's kind of where we are as an organization right now.
"We've got young guys who have all the potential in the world to pitch in that inning and all the ability in the world to get the three outs that are necessary, but not the experience of having done it before." While he avoided writing a closer's name in ink, Green talked about the importance of establishing defined roles for this group of relievers -- which lacks the personnel needed to manage a game strictly off lefty-righty matchups.
"If you don't have that personnel, it doesn't make sense to do it just to appear that you know what you're doing," Green said. "So you try to get guys to pitch in situations they can succeed in.
"I think basically where we're at right now, it would benefit us to find a guy like boom, this is the [eight-inning guy], this is the [ninth-inning guy]. A lot of it is because we just don't have these huge matchup-advantage guys."
Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.