NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Yankees lost their ace for at least a couple of weeks and their most dependable veteran for about a couple of months. For a team that’s already lost two key pitchers to injuries for the season, the news could have been worse.
It was bad enough even before Andy Pettitte fractured his fibula near his left ankle on the same day the Yankees put CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin. Robinson Cano hit a go-ahead homer to help New York beat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees have won 25 of their last 32 games and reached a season-high 18 games over .500. But now have to face at least two starts without Sabathia and possibly close to two months without Pettitte, the veteran who came out of retirement and filled in admirably for a pitching staff hit by injuries, including the loss of starter Michael Pineda and closer Mariano Rivera.
“If we have to score some runs, we’ll score some runs,” Girardi said.
Pettitte suffered his injury in the fifth inning when he was hit in the leg on a line drive by Casey Kotchman. Before the game, the Yankees announced Sabathia strained his groin against the Mets on Sunday, and still felt discomfort after throwing in the bullpen Tuesday.
“I wanted to go out and pitch Friday, but it’s early in the season and I want to be healthy,” Sabathia said. “If Friday I got out there in the bullpen and couldn’t go, that would put us in a really tough spot.”
Rafael Soriano had an adventuresome ninth inning in which he put the first two batters on base and walked in a run with two outs before getting Asdrubal Cabrera to fly out to left for his 17th save.
Pettitte was hit near his left ankle as he brought it around from the rubber while completing his delivery. The ball bounced toward the third base line and the left-hander went to field it, but it looked as if he couldn’t put weight on it and he went down on the grass.
He got back on the mound and threw several warm-up pitches before manager Joe Girardi let him stay in. But when he came up limping after throwing his first live pitch, Girardi popped out of the dugout and signaled for a pitching change.
Right-hander Cody Eppley came on with Kotchman on first and no one out. Lou Marson singled and Aaron Cunningham bunted the runners over before Kotchman was thrown out at the plate on Michael Brantley’s grounder to first base against Clay Rapada.
Cabrera hit a tying RBI single and Jason Kipnis followed with a blooper that fell in just beyond the glove of shortstop Jayson Nix to put the Indians ahead 3-2.
“We battled hard up until the end but we still fell short,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “We player better, better baseball today. I really liked the at-bats, especially at the end.”
Ubaldo Jimenez (7-6) gave the lead back in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff double by Alex Rodriguez before Cano’s drive.
Jimenez allowed four hits, four walks and four runs in six innings while striking out seven. Eric Chavez drove in three runs with a two-run double off Jimenez in the fourth, and an RBI single in the eighth.
Pettitte was working on another good start when he was hurt. He struck out 7 in four innings, and was charged with two runs, only one earned. He has struck out about a batter per inning since returning May 13.
Shelley Duncan hit an RBI double in the second for Cleveland, which has lost a season-high five straight.
“I think today was a good sign,” Jimenez said. “We were able to hang in there, the guys were able to score a couple runs. We lost the game, we lost the series but we still have a long way to go.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Sabathia felt a twinge in the muscle on the inside of his left leg in the fourth inning against the Mets. He didn’t tell anyone about it until he could still feel discomfort after throwing in the bullpen on Tuesday.
Girardi said the Yankees expect to have Sabathia, who is 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA, back shortly after the All-Star break. Longtime starter Freddy Garcia was expected to return to the Yankees rotation in place of the Cy Young winner, but he had to pitch in the fifth inning, after Eppley and Rapada got the first two outs.
Garcia (2-2) struck out cleanup hitter Jose Lopez to end the fifth, then worked the sixth and seventh. He will be pushed back to make the next start in place of Pettitte, and minor-league right-hander Adam Warren is expected to be called up to make Friday’s start.
NOTES: Yankees righty Ivan Nova is set to face RHP Dylan Axelrod of the White Sox on Thursday night in New York. … The Indians claimed former Mets utility player Vinny Rottino off waivers from New York, which designated him for assignment on Monday. He hit .182 with a double, two homers and 5 RBIs in 18 games with the Mets. Cleveland made room for him on the 40-man roster by designating RHP Chris Schwinden for assignment. Schwinden had appeared for the Mets earlier this season, but had been claimed previously by the Blue Jays before the Indians. … New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin will throw out the first pitch on Saturday against the White Sox. … Indians C Carlos Santana, who was the DH on Wednesday, was pinch-hit for in the ninth because his back tightened up. … A woman accused of stalking and shaking down Cashman says he got her phony identification to use in getting an abortion in court papers filed earlier this week. Louise Neathway made the claim papers she filed Monday. Cashman’s spokesman says the allegations amount to “more fiction” from a woman already facing stalking, perjury and other charges.
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