‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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It’s funny how the universe evens itself out sometimes.
Tuesday night, the Yankees benefited from a missed call from third base umpire Mike DiMuro. Wednesday, within hours of each other, they lost CC Sabathia to his third career trip to the DL with a strained groin and then, in the fifth inning against the Indians, Andy Pettitte for at least six weeks to a fractured ankle.
It’s almost like somebody upstairs told Joe Girardi, “Okay, I gave you one. Now let’s see how you do with minor-leaguer Adam Warren and, oh, Freddy Garcia!”
Crazy stuff, the vagaries of baseball. The Yanks get an outright mistake from an umpire on a seventh-inning, two-out non-catch of a foul into the stands to help stretch their June record to 19-5 — and please, no outcries for expanded replay. This was a case of DiMuro not checking Dewayne Wise’s glove after he emerged from the stands, an elementary action even a Little League ump knows is necessary.
And then they lose two pitchers who have accounted for a large part of that success. Sabathia was 3-1 in five starts in June, with a 3.03 ERA. It’s not coincidental that his worst start over that period came Sunday when he gave up nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, but was charged with just one earned run. Despite the four other unearned runs that crossed the plate under his aegis, the Yanks were still in a position to win that game.
And Pettitte, who hadn’t given up an earned run against the Indians before Casey Kotchman banged a line drive off his left ankle, was 1-1 in June with a 2.67 ERA.
So now they’re left with the deposed starter Garcia, who has done well in the recent small bites Girardi has used him in the past 11 days. He would have started Friday for Sabathia, but Pettitte’s injury forced Girardi to use him for 2 1/3 innings so it will likely be Triple-A callup Warren. Still, Garcia should see some starting action after allowing just one run in 6 1/3 while picking up Wednesday’s win as well as the one on June 16 in Washington.
He hasn’t started since April 28, and he looked awfully bad in his four starts. Even with sufficient rest, Girardi probably won’t let Garcia go deep into a game after his long idle in the lower recesses of the bullpen.
Of course, the way the Yanks have been slamming balls out of ballparks lately, they can probably tolerate losing Sabathia for a couple of starts. That, along with the All-Star break, should help the hard-throwing left-hander recover sufficiently from an injury he probably should have reported earlier than Tuesday’s bullpen session. A man of his size who throws as hard as he does tends to put a lot of wear and tear on the legs, so it’s no surprise something like this happened.
It is curious that he’s never had an injury below the waist, as strained abdominal muscles caused his other two trips to the DL. But he was probably due for something like this.
Pettitte is another story, however. To lose him for an extended period, the way he has pitched, could have a deleterious affect on the long-range picture.
But then again, this has been enough of a curious time for the Yanks that one might believe they can survive anything. For one thing, DiMuro is the son of Lou DiMuro, the ump who initially called a ball and then changed it to a hit batsman when Mets manager Gil Hodges showed him a smudge of shoe polish on the ball during the 1969 World Series. You may remember, the Mets won that series against Baltimore.
For another, it’s not often one sees such a sustained home run surge as the Yanks have put together. They just hit their 117th homer of the season in their 74th game Wednesday. Keep that up and the might just give the Seattle Mariners a run for their 1997 record of 264 homers.
Their seven homers in the Subway Series alone shows how dangerous this team can be with or without key starters, so the Yanks could well survive Sabathia’s and Pettitte’s absences.
That is, unless baseball karma plays a few more tricks.
That’s the thing about karma. You just never know.
Think the Yankees will be able to weather the storm? Be heard in the comments below!