Injuries to CC, Pettitte overshadow win
The day started out terrific for the Wednesday matinee at the Stadium. The Yankees starting pitcher on the afternoon was Andy Pettitte, who just so happened to also be the focus of the day's HOPE Week story; the Yankees were honoring five-year-old Andy Fass, a child that has been left legally blind due to albinism but fell in love with baseball after Pettitte gave him a ball while he was making a comeback start in Trenton earlier in the season.
When the game ended on this special day, the scoreboard said it was a 5-4 Yankees victory that gave them a series sweep against the Cleveland Indians -- but it didn't feel like a victory, as the Yankees were dealt two devastating blows.
Before the game, the team announced that CC Sabathia would be going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin, and that he would be back most likely after the All-Star break. Then, in the game’s fifth inning, the team was dealt a second blow when Pettitte took a line drive off the bat of Casey Kotchman just right above his left ankle; it was later revealed that Pettitte would miss at least six weeks with a fracture to his left fibula, leaving the team short two of their veteran starters.
“Bad day for lefthanders today,” manager Joe Girardi said after the game. “Guys are going to have to step up.”
“Obviously it hurt,” Pettitte said of the injury. “As soon as I threw that first pitch I just had an awful lot of pain just run all the way down to my foot. At that point I thought it might be something, but still it's like I'm sure it's not broke. Unfortunately it's fractured.”
Pettitte, who is in his comeback season as a 40-year-old, has been terrific for the Yankees since his return. There can even be a case made that he's been the second best starter on a staff that is currently clicking on all cylinders, as he is 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine starts and his 59-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio is one of the best in his storied 17-year career.
“Obviously it's frustrating,” Pettitte added after the game. “I think things happen for a reason.”
Pettitte said that he’s trying to stay positive, and on a positive note, he did inform the media after the game that it wasn't a full break and won’t require surgery -- but it still looks like this is going to be a long process before he makes a full return to the mound in 2012.
“I'm just going to try and stay positive with it … Maybe it'll help me down the stretch,” the lefty said. “It’s frustrating because I've been feeling so good. You just want to go out there and do your job and pitch.”
That’s exactly what Sabathia wanted to do as well, and in fact did even after his injury occurred during Sunday night's game against the Mets.
“I felt it on one pitch,” Sabathia said. “I think it was the fourth inning and I just kept pitching and I probably made it a little worse.”
Even though he did not initially agree with the decision to be placed on the disabled list, Sabathia made it known that it may be for the best, reiterating that it would just be a couple of missed starts and he would be ready to go after the All-Star break.
“I wanted to go out and pitch Friday, but it's early in the season,” Sabathia said. “I want to be healthy down the stretch. It's best to take the two weeks now.”
With Pettitte and Sabathia both headed to the DL, the Yankees announced that Adam Warren would start in CC’s place place of Sabathia and that Freddy Garcia would take Pettitte's spot on Monday.
Warren is 5-5 with a 3.86 ERA for the the homeless Triple-A Yankees this season, but is 3-2 with a 2.03 ERA over his last five starts and has “earned the opportunity” according to GM Brian Cashman.
“We're hoping that he (Warren) can do the job,” Girardi added.
As for Garcia, he has pitched well since being moved to the bullpen in late April, and the skipper was happy with the right-hander after he pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings on Wednesday.
“I felt I needed to try to win the game,” Girardi said when asked why he went to Garcia on Wednesday. “But Freddy did an outstanding job and he's one of the reasons we won this game today.”
The Yankees may have won the game, but with forty percent of their rotation now on the shelf, the hottest team in baseball might now truly see what they are made of.