I’ll get right to the point, and let Tyler Kepner
ruin your Monday morning relate the bad news:
The Yankees’ season changed irreversibly on Sunday. Chien-Ming Wang’s season is in jeopardy with a serious injury to his right foot, and C. C. Sabathia instantly became a very important name in the Yankees’ universe.
Wang … did not speak to reporters, but he told others that he felt a pop in his foot while rounding third base, a strong sign of ligament damage that could sideline him for months, if not the rest of the season…
The Yankees called the injury a sprained right foot, and they will hope for the best until Wang has a magnetic resonance imaging test in New York on Monday. But the early signs are grim.
The injury is to the top of Wang’s foot, the same general area that reliever Brian Bruney injured when he tripped while covering first base in April. Bruney was found to have a Lisfranc injury and is expected to miss a minimum of three months.
Wang has symptoms of the same injury, including swelling and the inability to bear weight on the foot; he left Minute Maid Park on crutches, in a soft cast. Bruney’s injury was in the middle of the foot, and Wang’s is believed to be in the webbing of his toes, between his big toe and second toe.
Let’s get this part out of the way: This had absolutely nothing to do with Wang’s running, and everything today with seemingly landing on third base the wrong way. Would this have been avoided without Interleague Play as I had originally proposed in my instant analysis? Probably. But we have to remember that this was still a freak accident. Hate Interleague Play as much as you want — as I do right now — but bad luck is bad luck.
Now, if this is another Lisfranc injury, the Yanks are in for a world of pain. The diagnosis on Lisfranc injuries is generally not good. While Brian Bruney will attempt a rehab, surgery is almost always the case, and Wang’s season could very well be over.
Now, before you go jump off the nearest bridge, keep in mind that this is early speculation on the part of the Yankees and Kepner. We won’t know anything until later on today, and at that point, the Yankees will begin to evaluate their options.
Yes, the Yankees need Chien-Ming Wang, but if Joba’s development continues, Andy Pettitte finds some consistency and Mike Mussina continues doing what he’s doing, the Yanks are not as in bad a shape as they could have been. The offense is clicking; the team is beginning to win. Wang’s loss is a blow, but the Yankees can weather this storm.
Later on today — around 12:30 p.m. — we’ll have our look at potential trade replacements. The Yankees also have internal options, including Ian Kennedy, Alan Horne, Dan Giese and Dan McCutchen as well as Phil Hughes a month or two down the road. For now, we just have to keep our chins up and hope for the best. It sounds bleak, and it may be bleak. But we just have to keep on trucking. Wang throws just once every five days, and the Yankees can win without him even if they’d rather be winning with him.
And, hey, perhaps now would be a good time for Carl Pavano to pick up his rehab pace. Imagine that one riding in on a white horse to save the Yankees.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Make sure you tell yours you love him, there’s lots of us that can’t do the same.
Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Norfolk)
Justin Christian & Luis Nunez: both 1 for 4, 1 K – Christian drove in a run
Matt Carson: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Cody Ransom, Nick Green, Greg Porter & Chris Stewart: all 1 for 4, 1 R – Ransom hit a solo homer & committed a fielding error … Green K’ed … Stewart drove in a run & K’ed twice
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 4, 3 K – first plate appearances since June 3rd
Jason Lane: 2 for 3, 1 BB – picked off first
Jeff Marquez: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 12-4 GB/FB – 54 of 83 pitches were strikes (65.1%) … 18 baserunners, 4 earned runs & a 38-13 GB/FB ratio in his last 19 IP … the problem? only 3 K’s during that span
Billy Traber: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – 4.07 ERA & 1.37 WHIP in AAA
David Robertson: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
The early word out of the Yankee clubhouse is that Chien-Ming Wang has a sprained foot. He’s wearing a soft cast and is on cruches. Joe Girardi said that the Yankee ace, 8-2 on the year, will go for tests — including an MRI — tomorrow in New York, and the team said that Wang’s injury is not an achilles tendon rupture. When asked if Wang would make his next start, he replied, “I wouldn’t think so. I’d be shocked.” With the Yanks just 3.5 games behind the Rays for that final AL playoff spot, Yankee fans across the world are holding their breaths right now. · (15) ·
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.
After Mike Mussina’s victory last night, the Yanks find themselves at 36-33, three games over .500 for the first time since last September. They’re also once again ahead of their 2007 pace when they were 35-34 through 69 games, 10 games out of first and six out of the Wild Card.
Today, they’ll go for their fifth win in six road games, and an another solid outing from Chien-Ming Wang would do wonders for this team. Last week in Oakland, Wang won for the first time since the start of May and looked much better than he had recently. Check out his front shoulder and the movement on his sinker early on. If that all looks good, the Yanks should be set.
The Astros are countering with Roy Oswalt, their ace in name only. For years, Oswalt has been one of the premier pitchers in the National League, but he has struggled mightily this year. He’s 5-6 with a 5.06 ERA, a mark nearly two runs higher than his career ERA. He’s allowed 15 more hits than innings pitched this year and has already surrendered 17 long balls.
On the offensive side of things, Melky Cabrera is making his 2008 right field debut. He’s played 13 games there throughout his big league career. The slumping Bobby Abreu — 4 for his last 18 — gets the day off.
Game time is 2:05 p.m.
Game Notes: PeteAbe notes that the last six Yankee games have all been under the three-hour mark. This is the first time in recent memory I can recall that happening.
It is no stretch of the imagination to say that Robinson Cano is having a terrible year. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Yanks’ second baseman was hitting a meager .217/.260/.316 and was 0 for 15 on the road trip before a pinch-hit single against the Astros. The question then on everyone’s mind is, “What’s wrong with Robbie?” Tyler Kepner breaks down Robbie’s mechanics, and as Kevin Long, the Yanks’ hitting coach says, they are clearly out of whack. It would do wonders for this team to get their second baseman back on track. · (3) ·
…and we’re just living in it.
Perhaps Mike Mussina, 39, sold his soul to the devil. Perhaps he has been replaced with Bizarro Mike Mussina. Perhaps he’s simply learned to be a better pitcher, proving the exception to the rule stating you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. No matter what, it’s become a pleasure to watch Mike Mussina — the AL leader in wins — work this year.
Now, I’ll be honest with you: Every time Mussina struggles in the first inning, I always think, “Well, that goes that Cinderella story.” When I turned off the game to go out to dinner after the top of the second, I figured we were in for a slugfest. Imagine my surprise to find that Mike Mussina was nearly flawless after that first inning.
The Yanks quickly fell behind tonight, 3-0, on a mammoth home run by Carlos Lee. Mussina looked vulnerable, but the Yanks’ bats quickly plated two to close the gap while the new Mike Mussina went to work. Over the next five innings, Mussina would allow three hits and no runs while walking no one and striking out four. The Yanks would plate eight runs and move three games above .500 for the first time all season. Believe it or not, the Yanks are now third in the Wild Card race.
While the bats went to work — with contributions from Melky Cabrera, Jose Molina and Wilson Betemit, not the most likely cast of characters — the story was Mussina. Moose hasn’t walked a batter in his last 14 innings, and he’s now won 10 games for the 17th time in his 18-year career. That is no small feat.
On the season, Mussina has thrown 81.1 innings, and he’s 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA. He’s struck out 46 while walking just 11, and he’s doing a masterful job of keeping runners off base. Tonight, he struggled in the first inning, a common theme this year. In fact, if you remove his 15 first innings this year — covering 14.2 innings — Mussina has a 3.51 ERA in 66.2 innings. This is vintage Mike Mussina with a different style, and it’s truly great. Enjoy the ride.
Triple-A Scranton (9-0 in over Norfolk)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 K - threw a runner out at home from LF
Justin Christian: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB - 9 hits in his last 6 games
Cody Ransom: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Jason Lane: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB
Matt Carson: 2 for 5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K – 17 for his last 39 with 3 homers
Greg Porter: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 4, 1 K – 1 for his last 26 with 8 K
Dan McCutchen: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 7-14 GB/FB – picked a runner off first … 71 of 102 pitches were strikes (69.6%)
Is three over .500 possible? Seems crazy, don’t it?
Alex Rodriguez is hitting .400-.482-.689 this month, while Johnny Damon has gone .443-.490-.591 since May 21st. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Melky is just 1 for his last 21 (with a .281 OPS), and Jose Molina is hitting just .163-.188-.217 since his three double series in Fenway way back in mid-April. Wandy-Rod is your garden variety underwhelming southpaw, so that means the Yankees have their work cut out for them.
Thaaaaaa Yankees’ lineup:
1. Damon, LF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Melky, CF
7. Molina, C
8. The Former Attorney General, 2B
9. Moose, SP
Sheesh, they basically have four pitchers batting at the bottom of the lineup…
With last night’s six-inning effort from Joba, we can, in essence, start the innings pitched clock. He’s at full strength as a starter now, and each outing he makes will deduct from the overall goal of 150-160 innings he’s slated to pitch this season. Based on my math, Joba is primed to make about 19-20 starts through the end of the year as long as the Yanks don’t skip him. (They probably will get creative when Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy return.) If he averages six innings a start, he’ll land at that 155-inning mark on the final day of the season which would put him out of commission prior to the playoffs. We’ll have to cross that October bridge as we get closer, but for now, the focus is on ensuring that Joba is on pace to reach his innings limit before the postseason. We just can’t assume a playoff berth this year. · (25) ·