As the Yankees and the Astros finish up this formality of a baseball game, the score is 11-0 in the 7th inning. While, barring an epic collapse, the Yankees will go a season-high four games over .500, the big story is Chien-Ming Wang.
Through five innings, Wang was rolling. He had allowed no runs on six hits and three strike outs. He hadn’t issued a base on balls and thrown 51 of 71 pitches for strikes. In the top of the sixth, he had to run the bases, and while attempting to score with two outs — a dicey move with the Yanks’ moving up 4-0 on the play — he pulled up lame and had to be helped off the field. The Yankees have yet to announce the injury and are saying it’s a right foot problem.
The Yanks could go on to win this game 30-0, and it wouldn’t matter because losing Chien-Ming Wang would be a huge blow to this team. He’s been nearly untouchable over his last two outings and seemed to be reestablishing himself as the Yankee ace after a tough month of May.
This type of injury is
exactly why Interleague Play as an attendance gimmick can harm a team just bad luck. Wang — and the rest of the AL pitchers — are not always used to run the bases. They don’t need to spend as much time as NL pitchers worrying about hitter and running; they can instead focus on pitching. So when an AL pitcher has to run the bases, everyone holds their collective breath, and accidents — freak ones, in this case — happen.
The Yanks now in a bit of bind; they’ll have to rely on Joba, Pettitte and Mussina with Rasner’s holding up the back end and an Ian Kennedy, shaky early on, on the horizon but still a week or two away. You can bet the C.C. Sabathia talks will heat up, and if the injury to Wang is serious, the Yanks will have to explore that option. They’re finally rounding into form; they’re narrowing the Wild Card gap; hopefully, this won’t knock the Yanks — now looking like a good team — down.