TORONTO — Sympathy isn’t a trait very popular in baseball, where injuries are part of the deal and nobody from the outside cares who is hurt.
Yet, how teams react to injuries to major stars goes a long way in determining if a season is ruined by torn rotator cuffs, torn UCLs, pulled groins and strained hamstrings.
Sunday, the Yankees showed that even without some very big names they have enough to overcome by eking past the Blue Jays 2-1 in 10 innings in front of 39,866 at Rogers Centre.
Gary Sanchez, an All-Star last year, has been out since June 25 with a strained right groin. Gleyber Torres, a strong AL Rookie of the Year candidate, went down last week with a strained right hip. Stud closer Aroldis Chapman is working on a barking left knee and center fielder Aaron Hicks was held out due to left leg cramps that surfaced Saturday. Starter Jordan Montgomery’s season ended May 1 and underwent Tommy John surgery. Masahiro Tanaka comes off the DL on Tuesday after missing almost a month with problems in both hamstrings.
“I said in spring training that it takes more than 25 guys to win,’’ said Brett Gardner, who moved to center with Hicks out, after delivering the game-winning single in the 10th off ex-Yankee Tyler Clippard that scored pinch-runner Tyler Wade from second. “Clint Frazier and Tyler Wade, our backup catcher [Austin Romine] could be a starter on other teams and [Kyle Higashioka] comes up and hits three homers. The depth we have allows us to overcome things like this.’’
The victory enabled the Yankees (58-27) to take two of three from the Blue Jays after dropping the opener on Friday night. They will start a doubleheader against the Orioles on Monday in Baltimore two games back of the AL East-leading Red Sox.
For nine innings Sunday, it appeared a gem by Domingo German (one run, four hits in six innings) had a chance to be wasted because the Yankees didn’t do much against 24-year-old lefty Ryan Borucki, who made his third big-league start. After scoring a run in the first inning when Miguel Andujar’s groundout to the right side plated Aaron Judge, the Yankees didn’t score against Borucki, who gave up a run and seven hits in seven innings.
Seunghwan Oh provided two scoreless frames and turned it over to Clippard. He nicked Greg Bird high on the right arm with a 2-2 pitch to start the inning. Wade ran for Bird and on orders from Aaron Boone, Romine — getting the bulk of the time behind the plate with Sanchez hurt — bunted Wade to second. Gardner then singled to left and Wade — recalled from Triple-A after Torres got hurt — thought only about touching the plate.
“Before the pitch, I peeked at the outfielders to see where they were and off the bat I knew it wasn’t going to be caught,’’ Wade said. “I peeked at [third base coach] Phil [Nevin] for confirmation, but I had a good idea I was going to score.’’
With Boone wanting to avoid using Chapman after removing him from Saturday’s game in the ninth due that bothersome knee, David Robertson took over from Chad Green, who had followed Adam Warren. Robertson retired the Blue Jays in order for his second save.
Sanchez and Torres aren’t expected to return until after the All-Star break. Chapman has been pitching with the knee issue. Hicks could play in one of Monday’s games.
“Next man up,’’ CC Sabathia said of the feeling in the clubhouse when a player goes down. “I know other people preach that, but we live it. Last year Gary [Sanchez] went down and Ro [Romine] did the job. Didi [Gregorius] went down and Toe [Ronald Torreyes] filled in. It is what it is. It’s how we roll.’’
Eventually, good teams need their best players on the field and producing to be successful, but there are times when the players who fill in must do more than take up a line in the boxscore. Lately, they are the reason the Yankees haven’t wilted under the burden of the disabled list.
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