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BALTIMORE -- While the rest of the Yankees are in Boston, riding high from their 6-5 victory over the Orioles on Thursday night and their very-much-alive pursuit of a playoff spot, Brett Gardner will be in an MRI tube in New York, hoping he can still be a part of it.
Gardner left Thursday's game after his at-bat in the first inning, having felt a twinge in his rib cage on a check-swing strikeout leading off the game.
How bad was it?
"I have no idea. I've never dealt with anything like this before," he said. "But it felt serious enough for me to say something and come out of the game. So you take what you want from that. I don't think anything's broken, obviously, but it's just one of those things where I've never had an issue before, and I know something's not right."
Despite the seriousness of the game -- Gardner called it "the biggest game of the season" -- he immediately told Joe Girardi that he needed to come out.
"I felt like if I went out there, it was just going to get worse," he said. "I was going to hurt the team 'cause I wasn't anywhere close to 100 percent so I let 'em know."
Gardner said he went down into the tunnel to try to twist and stretch out his left oblique, but to no avail. "It just didn't feel good," he said.
Now, Gardner will head back to New York, and if the MRI comes back clean -- and even if it doesn't, depending on what the Yankees want him to do -- Gardner will catch up with the team in Boston for the beginning of the three-game series at Fenway.
"It's not what we want right now," Girardi said. "Keep our fingers crossed that it's not much."
But Girardi said he expected Gardner to be out "a couple of days at least," and considering the Yankees' history with oblique injuries this season -- Joba Chamberlain missed 24 days with one earlier this season, and Eduardo Nunez was out nearly two months -- the possibility looms that the Yankees have lost their best table-setter for the remaining 15 games of the regular season and maybe beyond.
"There's no need to speculate," Gardner said. "I haven't really looked too far ahead into that. I guess it could be a possibility but hopefully I get some good news tomorrow. I know how important all the games are, and I've been happy all year with the way that I've felt and to be able to go out there every night and compete. Now tonight this thing pops up. It's frustrating."