While Curtis Granderson threw today for this first time since his broken right forearm, another big bat in the Yankees’ lineup is inching closer to a return.
According to the Associated Press, Mark Teixeira hopes to be cleared to take “dry swings” tomorrow following a visit to hand and wrist specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser. The 33-year-old has been sidelined since early March with a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, but he said today that he feels “no pain” and “could not be happier with the progress.”
Teixeira expects to progress from dry swings to fungo bats to soft tosses over the next week. Barring any setbacks, he’ll then test himself against live pitching before returning to game action. We heard one week ago that he’s aiming to join the Yankees by May 1, but that goal could be overly optimistic.
Lyle Overbay has served as the starting first baseman in Teixeira’s absence and is hitting .250 (7-for-28) with one home run, two doubles, five RBI and a .704 OPS through eight games.
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.