Brandon McCarthy is showing signs of improvement two days after undergoing surgery to relieve pressure on his brain from being struck by a line drive during a start against the Angels on Wednesday, but Athletics trainer Nick Paparesta said tonight that he’s still in a “life-threatening” situation.
“Absolutely he is. It’s brain surgery,” Paparesta said. “It’s life-threatening. At any possible moment something could go wrong, he could have a complication. Absolutely.”
McCarthy got out of bed three times today, sat up in his bed and in a chair, ate solid foods and recognized visitors. While he is able to talk, he is in too much pain to do so. Things are looking up, but Paparesta was told by doctors and the medical team that the second and third days after surgery are the most critical.
“We’re coming up on day three (Saturday), so by the evening time there’s still the possibility of reoccurring or increase of swelling back again,” Paparesta said. “If that happens, they can do different measures or techniques to keep that down. He’s not out of the woods but he showing great progress.”
Erick Aybar hit the ball which struck McCarthy on Wednesday afternoon. He was naturally quite shaken by his involvement in the unfortunate incident and issued a statement before tonight’s game.
“It has been a tough last two days for me as I keep replaying in my head when the ball struck Brandon. I am encouraged and thankful to know he has made significant progress, and I keep praying to God to help him recover quickly and fully. I also pray for him and his wife. Our game is a tight brotherhood, and right now we all wear the same uniform colors.”
Angels broadcaster Jose Mota reports that Aybar left a voicemail for McCarthy after Wednesday’s game and hopes to talk to him soon.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.