Hardcore Diamond Talk: Tough week for Yanks ends with a win and major loss

By Andy Roth
Contributing Editor

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    New York, NY (Sports Network) - The Yankees organization suffered some big losses off the field last week with the passing of principal owner George Steinbrenner and long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard, but it was the loss of a pitcher on the field that could have the biggest impact on the AL East race.

    All-Star Andy Pettitte, who's been the team's second best pitcher this season to ace CC Sabathia, left Sunday's 9-5 win over the Rays in the third inning with a left groin strain, and is expected to miss four to five weeks. Right- hander Sergio Mitre, who has been on the disabled list since June 15 and has not pitched since June 4, will start in Pettitte's place against the Royals on Saturday. Mitre (0-1, 2.88 ERA) is a long reliever who made two emergency starts in May, once in place of Pettitte, and once in place of Javier Vazquez. On May 10 in Detroit, he allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 5-4 loss to the Tigers, and on May 16, he held the Twins to one run over five innings in a game the Yankees lost 6-3.

    Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said there is no plan to seek pitching help outside the organization at this point. I'm wondering if he'll keep to that stance if Mitre pitches anywhere near his lifetime numbers (13-27, 5.39 ERA).

    With Pettitte out, the pressure will be on A.J. Burnett to step up and start pitching like he did last season, when he was the Yankees' number two starter. Burnett's frustrations from his struggles peaked on Saturday, when he cut both of his palms slamming them into a clubhouse door between innings of his start against the Rays. Over his last eight outings, Burnett has been simply awful, going 1-6 with an 8.07 ERA. If the Yankees hope to stay atop the division during Pettitte's absence, they'll need Burnett to get back on track.


    While the Bronx Bombers have to deal with a key loss to their rotation, their hated rival is expected to welcome back a big-time starter to theirs. Barring any unforeseen setback in the side session he throws Tuesday, Josh Beckett is scheduled to start Friday in Seattle for the Red Sox. Beckett has been out since May 18, when he slipped on a wet mound at Yankee Stadium and strained his back. I'm sure the Red Sox are thrilled at the thought of having their ace back, but keep in mind Beckett was pitching very poorly when he went to the disabled list. He managed to go only 1-1 with a whopping 7.29 ERA in eight starts and had three games in which he allowed seven earned runs or more.

    Another American League division contender saw a starter go to the DL with the Angels placing lefty Scott Kazmir on the 15-day disabled list with fatigue in his throwing shoulder. I don't exactly consider this bad news for the Halos since Kazmir gave up 13 earned runs in his last outing and 30 over his last four starts spanning 19 2/3 innings.

    Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.

    Copyright 2010

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