All things considered, the initial concern about Andy Pettitte’s upper back seems fairly minimal. He said it “completely locked up” when he came off the mound at the end of the fourth inning, but the training staff was able to get it loose again. When Pettitte went back out for the fifth, the muscle became tight again. The Yankees noticed a dip in velocity and arm speed, which is the reason they took him out.
“We had no tests, no,” Pettitte said. “The doc right now is saying he just thinks it’s a muscle spasm. It’s not really that tight right now. I can tell you that just standing here, I feel like I could grab a ball and throw it. It would probably tighten back up again, like it did a little while ago, but nothing’s really hurting right now.”
Joe Girardi said he doesn’t think Pettitte’s injury is “too bad,” but obviously the Yankees are going to check on him tomorrow to have a better idea of what exactly is going on. No one is saying that Pettitte will miss his next start, but no one is guaranteeing that he’ll make it, either.
“Obviously, I’m realistic,” Pettitte said. “I know how these guys are. I asked them if I could stay out there and try to get through it out there. So I’m hoping its a spasm and it settles down. I know my back was tight. My back didn’t loosen up, you know what I’m saying? I can’t tell you I’ve had this before. I haven’t, so I don’t know how (it will respond), but I don’t feel like it’s tight right now. I feel like it’s loosened up and relaxed, so that’s a good sign.”
Pettitte’s previous back spasms, which forced him to miss a start in April, came in his lower back.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been doing all my work, been doing my bullpens. Maybe I need to back off my bullpens a little bit. I’ve been doing two bullpens in between. It’s been a battle, no doubt. It’s been a battle the past four starts. My command hasn’t been what I expected it to be, or what it’s been. I don’t know if something is causing that. I just go throw. If I’m not hurting too bad, I just go and throw the ball. It is frustrating when you go out there and I’m not able to command the strike zone quite like I usually do.”
• Girardi sounded more concerned about the status of Chris Stewart, who’s having an MRI on his groin after feeling something as he rounded third base in the seventh inning. “When he went around the base and stopped, he said, he felt something,” Girardi said. “He said it didn’t pop. He said he was OK, but when we saw him run, he said it continued to hurt.”
• Will the Yankees have to put Stewart on the disabled list to avoid carrying only one catcher? “I don’t know,” Girardi said. “Let’s just see what the MRI says.” There is not another catcher on the 40-man, so the Yankees would have to make a move to create a roster spot. Veteran Bobby Wilson would seem to be the obvious choice, unless the Yankees are truly convinced that J.R. Murphy’s big Double-A numbers and defensive improvements make him big league ready. That would seem to be a long shot, in my mind, especially with another young guy being the only other catcher on the roster.
• As you might have guessed based on the fact he never got an at-bat, Travis Hafner was not available tonight. “We just felt that the more that we can get it healed, the more he’s going to be completely healthy when we bring him back,” Girardi said.
• Pettitte describing his back locking up after the fourth inning sounds like the kind of thing that would normally lead Girardi to make an immediate change, but Girardi said that’s actually not especially unusual. “There’s a lot of times when pitchers feel things in the course of the game and they get extra heat and they go out there and pitch,” Girardi said. “That’s a part of the game. Every time a guy feels something, you watch the way he throws the baseball, and a lot of times they just go through it and it’s no big deal. Tonight I saw the drop in velocity, and that was the concern.”
• How was Hector Noesi able to allow just one run through 4.1 innings in an unexpected spot start? “He was just changing speeds,” Brett Gardner said. “He’s up to 95 mph, he’s got a good changeup, he mixes that slider in. He hasn’t been starting for them every 5 days so you knew he wasn’t going to stay in the game a whole long time, but they’ve got a good bullpen and we just weren’t able to get the job done.”
• Ichiro Suzuki’s seventh-inning single snapped an 0-for-22 streak, one at-bat shy of his career-high hitless streak set last year. “He got up to about .275, .280 and he’s kind of going through what some of our other guys are going through,” Girardi said. “They’re struggling a little bit. At times we’re having a hard time scoring runs right now, but he’ll come out of it. I’m not concerned about that.”
• Could no one else catch that ball that Pettitte caught in foul territory? “I don’t know, but I wasn’t paying attention,” Pettitte said. “I wasn’t letting it hit the ground.”
• The Yankees had the tying run in scoring position in each of their last three innings. They left a season-high 10 runners on base for the third time this year.
• Gardner singled and stole second and third in the ninth but was left stranded. Should have stolen home. “I wasn’t able to do that,” Gardner said. “Just tried to get over in scoring position for those guys and we came up a little bit short.”
• Shawn Kelly has struck out 12 of the last 17 batters he faced. He has 30 strikeouts in 17.1 innings this season.
• David Adams got his first RBI tonight. He was part of a bottom-of-the-order — six through nine — that combined to go 6-for-14 with two runs, one RBI, one walk and two strikeouts. The Yankees top five hitters went 2-for-21 with one RBI, two walks and eight strikeouts.
• Mariners manager Eric Wedge was ejected in the first inning. “He should’ve thrown me out,” Wedge said. “I would’ve thrown myself out if I said that to myself.”
• Give the final word to Gardner: “What can you say? Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. We can’t take the day off tomorrow. We’ll keep fighting. We’ve done pretty good so far and the last couple of days haven’t gone like we wanted to. You’d like to win every series and we weren’t able to do that against the Mariners. Tomorrow is a new day and no matter what happens with those guys we’ve still got to play a ballgame.”
Associated Press photos