With three key components of the 2017 New York Yankees going down, the squad could be headed toward a debilitating rough stretch.
Ronald Torreyes and Austin Romine rose to the occasion greater than the team could have possibly hoped for, as they helped spark one of the better starts in recent team history. Quite honestly, it’s extraordinary that they are still in first place in the American League East with all they had to endure. Now, however, things are starting to pile on.
As the Bombers left the Bronx for the West Coast, they were one of the hottest teams in baseball at 37-23 — despite being without shut-down closer Aroldis Chapman, centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and first baseman Greg Bird.
Now, four days in California has resulted in three losses and four more injuries. Injuries which can lead to a debilitating stretch that may knock New York off their pedestal as AL East leaders.
On Thursday night, as the Yankees dropped a seesaw affair with the Oakland Athletics, star catcher Gary Sanchez (abductor’s muscle) and borderline All-Star center fielder Aaron Hicks (Achilles) were removed in the ninth inning. That comes one day after the red-hot CC Sabathia (0.99 ERA in six starts since May 16) was placed 10-day disabled list with a Grade 2 hamstring strain and the same night reliever Adam Warren was deemed unavailable due to a sore trap muscle in his right arm.
Sanchez was riding a stretch of seven games in which he was slashing .500/.576/1.143 with five home runs and 17 RBIs. Hicks owns the second-highest WAR (2.9) among Major League outfielders. Sabathia owned the second-lowest ERA (1.21) in the Majors over the last 30 days. Warren owns the second-lowest ERA (2.23) among Yankee relievers (min. 20 G) behind Dellin Betances — who is now unavailable on Friday after tossing 39 pitches on Thursday.
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These are injuries the Yankees frankly can’t afford as they enter an “easy” time in their schedule. The next four opponents for New York (Oakland, Angels, Texas, White Sox) are posting a combined record of 134-142 and as the Boston Red Sox (6-4 over their last 10) trim the divisional lead, this is a point of the schedule Girardi and Co. must take advantage of.
“[Sanchez] is swinging the bat extremely well. He’s a dangerous hitter right now,” manager Joe Girardi said following the 8-7 loss at Oakland Coliseum. “Obviously it’s not a good time for him to miss any time, so hopefully it’s not much.”
It’s not the end of the world yet, as the Yankees’ manager is hopeful that Sanchez and Hicks — two key figures in one of baseball’s most productive lineups — won’t miss significant time.
“As of right now, I don’t think it’s a long period of time [for either Sanchez or Hicks],” Girardi said. “Maybe a day or two. I don’t know. But I think we’ll know a lot more (Friday) morning when they wake up.”
Regardless, the Yankees have tied their longest losing streak of the season at three games, their lineup just took a massive hit and they are without their productive veteran presence in a relatively young rotation. They have been here before, but whether the likes of Romine, Rob Refsnyder, Luis Cessa and Giovanny Gallegos can fill the void for the rest of the weekend will certainly be a tall task.