Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Yankees [Print without images]

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Contagion: The King gets hurt

By Andrew Marchand

Felix Hernandez
A strained back forced Felix Hernandez out of the game in the sixth inning of the Yankees' 4-3 win.
Where have we seen this before? A star gets hurt and the Yankees win.

Felix Hernandez, better known as The King, may be the best pitcher in baseball. He has a $175 million contract. So what happens when he steps foot in Yankee Stadium in 2013? He tweaks his back and has to leave the game after six innings.

Yankee teams with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, et. al., only could beat Hernandez once at the $1.5 billion palace in the Bronx. Hernandez had won four of five decisions with a 1.13 ERA since the new building went up in 2009. He had two shutouts on the Bronx mound, or one more than CC Sabathia in 66 starts.

In reality, the 2013 vagabond Yankees couldn't really touch Hernandez either, but they outlasted him. He went six innings, threw 97 pitches, made the Yankees look nearly helpless and hitless in important spots. They were were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, but did pick up a run on a Lyle Overbay sac fly in the sixth. This was Hernandez's final inning, when he strained his back on a forceout to second.

Before that it looked as if Hernandez would push Prince Hal to the side and continue to own the Yankees.

"He basically did what he usually does," Joe Girardi said, noting Hernandez appears as if he gets better when facing threats.

But the King left the building, and the Yankees were waiting with their usual 2013 magic that resulted in a 4-3 victory. In the seventh, against Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush, the Yankees did what they do -- find a way to win, which they have done as much as any team in baseball thus far.

Chris Nelson singled. Brett Gardner walked. Robinson Cano tied the game with a two-run double. Vernon Wells was intentionally walked. Curtis Granderson walked to load the bases. Finally, Lyle Overbay hit the sac fly that would be enough for a 4-3 win.

Overbay is the perfect example of a reborn Yankee.

"It is a lot different," Girardi admitted when asked about his perception of Overbay now and when he came in for a three-day tryout at the end of spring training. "He has had so many big hits and RBIs for us. He got us on the board [with a double] and then he had the game winner. ... I feel good when he is at the plate. I really do."

Mariners manager Eric Wedge expects Hernandez to be fine, but he had to take him out Tuesday. So instead of the King beating CC Sabathia in their first duel ever, it was the same old story at Yankee Stadium.

A star got hurt -- and the Yankees won.