Yankees lose Pettitte and sweep Indians;
Sabathia also on the DL
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, June 27- Yankees manager Joe Girardi arrived at the ballpark early Wednesday and felt good about his team. But a few hours later after New York swept a three-game series from the Cleveland Indians, he never envisioned losing starting pitchers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte to injuries.
Pettitte, the starter Wednesday afternoon in the Bronx was lifted in the fifth inning when he was hit in the leg on a line drive off the bat of the Indians Casey Kotchman with the Yankees trailing 2-1.
Later in the sixth inning, in a game the Yankees would eventually won, 5-4, Girardi was informed that Pettitte had sustained a left ankle fracture. The left hander who returned in early May, after a brief one-year retirement, was placed in an ankle boot and will be out of action for the next six weeks.
Pettitte, who was once again in command, allowing two runs in four innings, and his injury was the last thing Girardi and the Yankees expected to hear. Earlier the team placed Sabathia on the disabled list with a strained left groin.
Sabathia, 9-3, developed discomfort on his left side in the fourth inning Sunday in his last start against the New York Mets.
“A bad day for lefthanders today,” commented Girardi to the media after his team won their fifth straight, and 15th in their last 18 games. “Guys will have to step it up,” he said.
And the Yankees, who have dealt with adversity with their pitching staff, are expected to overcome this setback to their rotation. Before the season they lost newly acquired starter, Michael Pineda the entire season due to right rotator cuff tendinitis.
All-time saves leader Mariano Rivera, had surgery last week for a torn ACL of the right knee. He is not expected to return this season from the freak injury he sustained shagging fly balls in the outfield last month before the Yankees took on the Kansas City Royals at Kaufman Stadium.
“If we have to score some runs, we’ll score some runs,” said Girardi about being without two-thirds of his starting rotation. New York got another home run Wednesday, the 18th of the season from Robinson Cano in the sixth inning.
The home run gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead, their 117th as a team which increased their major league high
Sabathia is expected to miss two starts and return after the all-star break in mid July. “I wanted to go out and pitch Friday, but it’s early in the season and I want to be healthy,” he said.
Right hander Freddy Garcia will once again fill the void and be one of the guys that Girardi hopes will step up. Garcia, (2-2) could get the start Friday which was scheduled for Sabathia.
He came on with two outs in the fifth inning after Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada got the first two outs. The Yankees also will bring up right hander Adam Warren (5-5) with a 3.86 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He could get the start Friday, with Garcia filling the spot for Pettitte who was scheduled to pitch again Monday night when the Yankees open their next road trip at Tampa Bay.
Warren is slowly getting an opportunity to be in the spotlight and the Yankees say they will not rush the youngster into a major role. Though with the unexpected injuries to Sabathia and Pettitte, and with the Yankees not looking to go outside the organization for help, Warren is expected to also fill the void.
“I would prefer to not go outside,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman when asked about acquiring pitching help. “Let’s play it out and see.”
Added Girardi, regarding how his other healthy starters may have to step up, “They can’t make starts for Andy. That’s the thing they have to understand,” referring to Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda.
And if the trend holds, the Yankees will survive this latest round of adversity as the Chicago White Sox come to the Bronx to start a four-game series Thursday night.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com
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