The New York Yankees have injury issues heading into their Wild Card Game matchup with the Boston Red Sox. Why wouldn’t they?
DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit were both placed on the IL in recent days, removing a steady presence from the top of the lineup, as well as a power bat and backup first baseman. In fact … who’s the backup first baseman right now? You know what, don’t answer that.
Additionally, Gio Urshela may or may not be playing at full capacity after flinging himself into the dugout to make an inning-ending spectacular catch in Game 162 against the Rays.
Needless to say, the Bombers’ injury situation could’ve used some evening out, and they received a little bit of a break on Tuesday afternoon.
JD Martinez was left off Boston’s Wild Card roster with an ankle issue suffered … jogging to the outfield on Sunday in Washington.
Because, you see, he was forced to play the outfield in a National League ballpark. And he tripped over second base. Somehow, against the odds, the impact of that twisted ankle forced him out of play in a winner-take-all.
JD Martinez will not face the Yankees on Tuesday in the Wild Card Game.
With all due respect … what the hell is going on?
Surely, this will come back to bite the Yankees in some capacity anyway. It always does. But, at least in the pregame, we can accurately assess how big a loss this seems to be.
Martinez is hitting .286 and slugging .500 over the past 28 days, repeating his success from 2019 if not his outright dominance from 2018. In a four-year tenure with Boston, only 2020 has been anything short of spectacular, and that was a season unlike any other, where the slugger wasn’t allowed to spend time in his beloved video room.
Bobby Dalbec will presumably play first and Kyle Schwarber will likely DH, and both are fearsome bats. But losing JD weakens the bench by elevating one of them to the starting lineup, and alters Alex Cora’s ability to match up late in a game against, say, Joely Rodriguez or Wandy Peralta.
Additionally, Boston will be without Hirokazu Sawamura (head-scratching) and Darwinzon Hernandez, unfortunately snuffing out the possibility of the Yankees calling our favorite play, “Destroy a Grand Slam off Darwinzon Hernandez.”
Also missing? Chris Sale!
Understandably, the Sox are being extra careful with Sale following Tommy John surgery early in 2020, and the ace looked particularly off-kilter on Sunday in DC. But you’re telling me you wouldn’t be sweating a little if he’d jogged out from the ‘pen to give an inning? Josh Taylor, recently recovered from injury, doesn’t strike the same fear in anyone’s heart.
Martinez tripping over the second base bag in the literal final game of the 2021 season is exactly the kind of thing that used to come back to bite the pre-2004 Red Sox.
Let’s hope against hope that it matters tonight.