Using crutches and wearing a soft cast, Wang flew home with the Yankees to New York, where he will undergo an MRI on Monday. Until then, the club will hold its breath and hope it has not lost the services of the Major Leagues' winningest pitcher since the beginning of the 2006 season.
The injury occurred with New York batting in the sixth inning. Wang reached base on a fielder's choice facing Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt and was waved home from second base on Derek Jeter's two-run single to right field.
Wang scored but was hobbled as he rounded third base, hopping home. After scoring, Wang bent over with his hands on his knees, then pointed to his right foot. Girardi was fine with the decision to send Wang home, saying that he had "a great jump," and Wang told Mike Mussina that he had suffered the sprain on the grass after touching third base.
"I feel sore," Wang said through a team spokesman. "The doctors say I have to go to get an MRI tomorrow. Of course, I'm disappointed. And on Tuesday, when I know more, I will talk [publicly]."
"He's frustrated, and he's a little disappointed," Mussina said. "There could be a very short amount of time, too. It may not be all that bad. It's just something that happened -- he didn't do anything wrong."
Robinson Cano scored just before Wang on the play and immediately waved to the dugout, drawing out Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue to help Wang off the field and down the dugout steps.
"That's a manager's worst nightmare, when a pitcher is on the basepaths," Girardi said.
|"Clubs are going to go through injuries, and you've got to find a way to get it done. It's not easy to replace 19 wins."|
-- Yankees manager|
"I saw him come around third and saw him take one step, and he pulled up," Pettitte said. "It's just like, 'Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding me.' I threw my arms up in the air. You just can't believe it."
Mussina said that the novelty of having American League pitchers bat under National League rules puts the AL clubs at a significant disadvantage from the standpoint of injuries.
"American League pitchers are at the most risk, because we don't hit and we don't run the bases," Mussina said. "When you get four or five at-bats a year at the most, and you happen to get on base once or twice, you never know. We run in a straight line most of the time. Turning corners, we just don't do it that often."
Wang had hurled five innings of scoreless ball against the Astros before the injury, scattering six hits while walking none and striking out three. He improved to 8-2 this season and had appeared to turn a corner on the mound, limiting the A's to one run over 7 1/3 innings in his last previous outing, on June 10, to snap a six-start winless drought.
"You hope it's a couple of weeks and something not worse than that," Pettitte said. "He's our ace, and he's really irreplaceable, bottom line, from the standpoint of what he can do when he takes the mound and the way he eats up innings. It's a huge loss, but it's part of the game. Someone else will have to come up here and start, and they'll have to try to do the best job they can."
Girardi said that he did not want to speculate if Wang would need a stint on the disabled list, but acknowledged that filling Wang's spot in the rotation -- even if just for one or two turns -- would be no simple task.
"You've got to find a way to get things done," Girardi said. "Clubs are going to go through injuries, and you've got to find a way to get it done. It's not easy to replace 19 wins. That's not easy to do."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.