Masahiro Tanaka chugged for home and scored standing up on Aaron Judge’s sacrifice fly, eliciting a raucous reaction in the Yankees’ dugout. But the celebration did not last.
Tanaka, who reached base on an error to start the sixth-inning rally that tied Friday night’s game against the Mets, did not slide as he reached the plate and seemed to walk gingerly — not to mention exhaustedly — to the Yankees’ dugout.
He soon left the game — a 4-1 Yankees victory at Citi Field — with what the Yankees announced as “stiffness in both hamstrings.” He will be re-evaluated Saturday.
“Just both hamstrings tightened up on him, so I’m not sure of the severity of it really or if it’s cramps or whatever,” Aaron Boone said. “We got an IV in him when he came out of the game. It’s one of those things that we’ll evaluate tomorrow.”
When asked if he thinks he will be able to make his next start, Tanaka said through his translator, “Can’t really say yet. We should have a clearer picture tomorrow.”
Of how much discomfort he felt while speaking to reporters, he said: “I feel it right now. It’s pretty tight.”
It is potentially another blow to a rotation that earlier in the week lost lefthander Jordan Montgomery for the season. He had Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Neither of the Yankees’ top pitching prospects, lefthander Justus Sheffield or righthander Chance Adams, is on the 40-man roster, nor is lefty Josh Rogers, who has been the organization’s most consistent performer this season for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Boone did not question third-base coach Phil Nevin’s decision to send Tanaka on Judge’s fly to medium right. “You don’t play to not get hurt,” he said.
Tanaka said he chose not to slide when he saw the throw from rightfielder Jay Bruce tailing to the first-base side. After being congratulated by staff and teammates, Tanaka descended the dugout steps toward the clubhouse. Minutes later, Jonathan Holder came in from the bullpen for the bottom of the sixth.
Tanaka’s night, which started inauspiciously with Brandon Nimmo’s homer on his second pitch, suddenly was over after five innings and 75 pitches.
The situation brought to mind June 2008, when Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang suffered a season-ending injury to his right foot while running the bases in Houston, then a National League city. Wang, who won 19 games the previous two seasons and went 46-15 from 2006-08, was never the same.
“As I sit here now, I love the DH for both leagues,” Boone said with a weary smile of an issue that seems to come up during interleague play, especially when a pitcher gets hurt running.
Tanaka was terrific after allowing the leadoff homer to Nimmo, retiring 12 straight. He allowed one hit, walked one and struck out eight, aided by a filthy splitter.
Judge, Chapman banged up. Rightfielder Aaron Judge jammed his left thumb while sliding into second base on a 3-3-6 double play that ended the first inning. Trainer Steve Donohue and Boone came out but Judge stayed in the game. “It was sore but we were able to tape it up, keep the swelling down a little bit,” he said. “We were good to roll the rest of the game.”
He added, “We’ll run some tests before I come to the stadium, but all’s well so far.”
Aroldis Chapman recorded his 16th save with a scoreless ninth but said he’s been dealing with left knee tendinitis the last three weeks. “It didn’t get in the way of me doing my job today. I was able to pitch fine,” he said through his translator. “What I can tell you is I can pitch with it. I’ve been pitching with it, I pitched tonight. So I don’t think it’s going to stop me from pitching.”