Clippard will be the 11th starter used by the Yankees this season as they try to avoid a three-game sweep in their interleague series with the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Darrell Rasner left in the first inning with a broken index finger on his pitching hand for the Yankees (18-23) in Saturday’s 10-7 loss to the Mets (28-14), becoming the latest Yankees starter to go down with an injury.
The Yankees have lost three straight, seven of nine and now trail the Boston Red Sox by 10 1/2 games in the AL East.
“It’s definitely embarrassing,” Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon said. “We definitely know that we are better than we’ve showed.”
In danger of being swept by the Mets for the first time since July 2-4, 2004, the Yankees will be relying on another rookie pitcher Sunday in Clippard. He will be the fifth starting pitcher to make his major league debut for the Yankees this season, and the seventh rookie to start.
Many of those young pitchers have ended up on the disabled list, and Rasner is likely headed there. The Yankees have five pitchers currently on the disabled list, and four of them have two years or less of major league experience.
Clippard, a 22-year-old right-hander, went 3-2 with a 2.72 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Scranton. In his last five outings, he was 3-0 and allowed four earned runs in 25 2-3 innings.
“We liked him a lot in spring training,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He showed us real good command, a good slider. He just seems to have a big, loose arm, but what is he going to do out here Sunday? I can’t tell you.”
The NL East-leading Mets, winners of four straight and five straight series, will start John Maine (5-1, 2.15 ERA) against Clippard.
“It’s what we call a big-bonus game,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
Maine is coming off his first loss of the year, allowing three runs and seven hits in five innings as the Mets lost 10-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
The NL pitcher of the month for April, Maine’s ERA rose from 1.79, and the Mets are now 7-1 in his starts.
Maine’s lone start against the Yankees came while pitching for the Orioles, and he was tagged for seven runs and six hits in one inning as the Orioles lost 12-9 on Sept. 20, 2005.
David Wright hit a pair of two-run homers Saturday. Wright, who recorded his eighth career multihomer game, is batting .405 (17-for-42) with four home runs, 13 RBIs, nine runs and six stolen bases in his last 12 games.
The Yankees have fallen to 1-7 this year against their two biggest rivals, the Red Sox and Mets. After struggling on offense in recent games, the Yankees did break through for 15 hits, including four by Jorge Posada.
Posada also extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games, and is batting an AL-best .386. Derek Jeter also pushed his hitting streak to 14 games, hitting .431 (22-for-51) with 12 RBIs in that span.