Renzhofer: Injuries won't stop Yankees
It's only the end of May, but Tampa Bay's Cesar Ramos may have just clinched the AL East for the New York Yankees.
A Ramos pitch struck and broke a knuckle in Curtis Granderson's left hand. The Yankee outfielder is expected to miss between a month and six weeks of action just what the doctor ordered.
That should be plenty of time for New York to push open a comfortable division lead.
"I'm happy that we won the game," manager Joe Girardi told The New York Times, "but we lost a really good player and that's never a good thing. But we've figured it out, and we'll figure it out."
The Yankees certainly have figured it out and outfoxed many who believed that the Bombers' playoff run was going to come to an end in 2013. There were those who thought New York was headed to oblivion the moment shortstop Derek Jeter flopped agonizingly to the ground with a broken ankle during last season's playoff sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.
The idea that New York's Faustian bargain had indeed run its course solidified this spring with a disabled list which included Jeter who continues to struggle Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis.
How would the likes of Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells replace those guys, let alone strike fear in the hearts of AL pitchers? The new players were old, washed up and injury-prone.
Last place for the Yankees, right? They did come into the season as the second-oldest team in baseball.
So, New York is in the bottom third of the American League in hitting. The Yanks aren't fielding it so great, either.
Then, there is the pitching. Ah, pitching.
Coming into Saturday, the Yankees owned the second-best earned-run average in the American League, behind Texas, easily outdistancing Boston, another surprise team.
CC Sabathia, age 32, Hiroki Kuroda, 38, and Andy Pettitte, 41, have fashioned a combined 14-9 mark with a 3.29 ERA. Mariano Rivera, 43, is 17 for 17 in saves.
Is it the pinstripes? Maybe the ghosts Jeter sometimes refers to are lending a hand baseball's version of "Always."
"There are Yankee fans everywhere," Wells told Foxsports.com. "They're passionate. They'll let you know if you have a bad day or if you have a great day. It's a fun atmosphere to be in."
That counts for something.
However, just to make sure they reach the playoffs for a record 18 times in 19 years, maybe the Yanks need Robinson Cano to sprain an ankle.