BALTIMORE – Having just outlasted the Orioles to win, 7-6, at Camden Yards, the Yankees’ minds were on reliever Michael King, who abruptly exited Friday night’s game.
“Kind of a somber mood in here after the game,’’ starter Jameson Taillon said as King was having his right elbow examined in the trainer’s room, amid fears that the right-hander had suffered a season-ending injury.
Late Friday, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the initial read on King’s X-ray was an elbow fracture and he will be out for the season.
If the Yankees (65-30) have lost King for any extended period, it’s a huge blow – one that could potentially make them more aggressive shoppers for relief help before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
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After Aroldis Chapman surrendered a three-run homer to Anthony Santander, cutting the Yanks’ lead to 7-6, King entered and retired the next two batters to finish the seventh inning.
King retired Rougned Odor to start the Baltimore eighth and threw two 95-mph sinkers for strikes against Ramon Urias before unleashing an 81-mph slider and jumping off the mound in obvious pain.
Keeping his right elbow tight to his body, King bent at the waist and shouted into his glove before walking off the field and into the clubhouse, accompanied by manager Aaron Boone and head athletic trainer Tim Lentych.
The Yankees have already lost a high-leverage setup man in Chad Green, who exited a May 19 game at Camden Yards due to a strained forearm and later underwent season ending Tommy John surgery.
Fellow right-hander Miguel Castro is currently on the 15-day injured list due to a right shoulder strain.
By Sunday, the Yankees could have Ron Marinaccio (right shoulder inflammation) back in their bullpen, after tossing a scoreless minor league rehab inning Friday with Class AA Somerset.
By September, the Yankees are expecting to have veteran lefty Zack Britton back in their bullpen, after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
Yet, it’s hard to replace King, who pitched to a 2.29 ERA and had refined the slider taught to him by Corey Kluber to go with a high-octane fastball.
“Saw the same thing happen to Greenie last time we were here. It’s never good,” said Aaron Judge, who blasted two more home runs – Nos. 35 and 36 – in pursuit of Roger Maris’ franchise record of 61. “Especially how big of a bullpen piece (King) has been for us, the work he puts in day in and day out to get to this position.
“One of our high-leverage guys. It’s tough to see. He’s in our prayers, that’s for sure.”