Lead gets away from Tigers in Bronx
Zumaya struggles, will undergo MRI in Detroit on Saturday
NEW YORK -- Joel Zumaya slowly walked off the mound after a sluggish seventh inning on Friday night looking like a man in distress. About two hours later, his right arm hanging from a painful shoulder, he was completely dejected.
The right-handed reliever, who took the loss in a 5-3 setback to New York at Yankee Stadium, will fly to Detroit on Saturday morning to undergo an MRI and have his shoulder examined by a Tigers team physician.
"It felt like I had a slice that went from the top of my shoulder down to my armpit, and usually when you feel something like that, it's not good," Zumaya said.
The Yankees had done their damage, hitting-wise, to Zumaya before the pain struck. With his team trailing by one run, New York shortstop Derek Jeter fought off a fastball and punched it into right field. Johnny Damon jumped on another fastball and drove it just out of reach of right fielder Clete Thomas for a double. Zumaya then fell behind Mark Teixeira, 3-0, threw the slugger a strike and then watched a low pitch soar deep into the stands for a three-run homer that created the final score.
But it was five batters later, when Zumaya threw ball four to Nick Swisher, that he felt a pop and then intense pain.
"I just came off an X-ray," Zumaya said. "There's a lot of pain in my shoulder. I got X-rays to try to figure out what's going on. The fourth pitch, it was a breaking ball. Then I just tried to throw the ball down the middle. I was in serious pain. I just tried not to show too much emotion."
But it wasn't hard to tell that Zumaya was troubled as he walked off the mound in the rain, in a thunderstorm that would later cause a 57-minute delay.
Manager Jim Leyland didn't let on that there was something wrong with the hard-throwing right-hander, who sustained a non-displaced fracture in his right shoulder last year and didn't pitch after Aug. 12.
"We couldn't get an extra big hit," Leyland lamented. "We thought we had it set up pretty good when you have a guy who throws like that [Zumaya]. But basically, what happened is he got the ball up to two guys who like it up, and he got the ball down to the one guy who likes the ball down. That pretty much sums it up."
Leyland acknowledged that Zumaya has been struggling lately.
"He looked a little bit different," Leyland said. "If it's confidence, I can't really answer that question. He looked a little bit different. When you have an arm like that and don't get an out before they get the lead, I'm sure that's all part of it."
Zumaya said the pain he felt on Friday night was situated below where he'd sustained the fracture.
"Disgusted, sad, I don't know what to think right now," he said when he first addressed reporters at his corner locker.
The Tigers had been hanging on for dear life before that fateful seventh. The Yankees had stranded seven runners, lined into one double play and had a runner thrown out at the plate.
Center fielder Curtis Granderson, who hadn't fared well against Yankees pitching this season and who has never solved the problem of New York right-hander A.J. Burnett, who previously pitched for Toronto, took big steps to solve both problems.
Granderson led off the game by lining a double into the right-field corner against Burnett and later scored. He then opened the fifth inning by launching a home run over the fence in right-center field to give the Tigers a two-run lead. The double and the homer, his 19th, left Granderson 3-for-13 lifetime against Burnett and 3-for-13 against Yankees pitching this season.
New York answered Detroit's run in the first by scoring on two hits and an error, then closed to within one run with an unearned run in the fifth off starter Luke French, who gave up just one run over five hard innings.
Detroit, which matched its season high by committing three errors, made two of those mistakes in the fifth, and was lucky to escape allowing just the one run after Hideki Matsui lined into a double play.
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.