The New York Yankees had to be encouraged with their performance on the field Wednesday, when they ended a road slump by beating a fellow wild-card contender. Off the field, bad news on the injury front kept coming.
The Yankees look to overcome more health woes and salvage a split of a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Thursday night at Rangers Ballpark.
New York (62-52) had lost seven of 10, including the first two games of this series before beating Texas 5-3 on Wednesday night. The Yankees gave up 26 runs and 33 hits during their three-game road losing streak, but Sidney Ponson held his former club to three runs in 6 1-3 innings to help keep New York within 3 1/2 games of wild card-leading Boston.
“I think everybody in this clubhouse wants to go to the playoffs,” Ponson said. “It doesn’t matter who we win against.”
The Yankees are trying to reach the postseason for the 14th consecutive season, but they can’t help but be discouraged by their mounting injuries. Already without staff ace Chien-Ming Wang (foot), New York placed starter Joba Chamberlain on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with rotator cuff tendinitis in his pitching shoulder.
The club said Chamberlain, 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA, will rest for about a week before beginning a throwing program.
“You lose your No. 1, and you lose another guy that’s been throwing the ball well for you in Chamberlain, it’s things you have to deal with,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You’ve got to move on. That’s the only thing you can do in this game.”
Girardi was prepared for more bad news during Wednesday’s contest, when recently acquired catcher Ivan Rodriguez was hurt in a collision with Texas’ David Murphy at home plate. Rodriguez, however, suffered only a bruised knee and was listed as day-to-day.
Murphy didn’t fare as well and will miss 2-4 weeks with a strained knee ligament.
The Yankees did get closer Mariano Rivera back Wednesday. Rivera, who hadn’t pitched since Friday because of back spasms, gave up one hit in the ninth and remained perfect in 27 save opportunities this season.
Rivera helped hold the Rangers (60-55) to their lowest run total since a 10-2 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on July 22. In 13 games between those losses, Texas averaged 7.6 runs and batted .302 while going 8-5.
Texas could have a hard time getting back on track offensively against New York’s Mike Mussina (14-7, 3.44 ERA), who’s won four of his last five decisions with a 2.37 ERA in that six-start stretch. The right-hander limited the Los Angeles Angels to two runs - one earned - and two hits in seven innings of an 8-2 victory Saturday.
Mussina is 5-1 in seven road starts this season, including 5-0 with a 2.97 ERA since losing his first road outing of the season April 12 against Boston. He’s 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last nine starts against the Rangers.
Scott Feldman (4-4, 4.97) takes the ball for Texas, hoping to bounce back from his first loss in eight starts. The right-hander gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-4 defeat to Toronto on Saturday.
In his first career start against the Yankees, Feldman gave up one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 2-1 road victory June 30.