Andy Pettitte had a chance to reach 250 career victories. Instead he left the mound with a back injury.
Pettitte allowed two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings but only lasted 79 pitches during last night’s 3-2 Yankees loss to the Mariners.
Pettitte winced and appeared to hold his side while throwing a slider to Kyle Seager. The trainer came out to look at Pettitte and removed him from the game.
“Every time a guy feels something you watch how it goes, and lot of times hitters go through it and it’s not a big deal,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Tonight I saw a drop in a velocity and that was a concern.”
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The Yankees announced during the top of the eighth inning that Pettitte’s injury was a tight left trapezius.
For now, there was good news concerning Pettitte, who said he was not feeling any pain while explaining what happened in the postgame interview.
“I couldn’t extend it at all,” Pettitte said. “I felt like I was cutting everything off and really just throwing slower than slow to tell you the truth.”
The injury initially surfaced after the fourth inning and Pettitte said he thought it vanished after getting some heat and massage treatment. After his first pitch to Jason Bay, Pettitte said it locked up again, though he was uncertain if it would cost him his next start.
In typical Pettitte fashion, he was more upset about not giving the Yankees length a night after the bullpen was used for 25 outs.
“I can’t stand that I wasn’t able to stay out there and give us a good start and give us a chance to get the lead,” he said.
It is the second time this season Pettitte has had an injury issue. Last month he went 10 days in between starts due to back spasms and emerged from that problem to turn in two quality outings.
After not having much command of his pitches in losses to Houston and Oakland, Pettitte seemingly rediscovered it with seven strong innings in Kansas City on Saturday.
It was a typical Pettitte start with several base runners and a few jams but he only allowed a run-scoring double to Dustin Ackley in the second and a run-scoring infield hit to Brendan Ryan in the fourth. Along the way, Pettitte worked out of runners on second and third in the second inning and got of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning.
He started the fifth by striking out Jason Bay with one of the few changeups thrown. He remained throwing off-speed in the at-bat to Seager which might have been an indication something was off physically.
Pettitte’s injury overshadowed a quiet night by the Yankees offense which did little in 4 1/3 innings against Hector Noesi and not much else against four relievers. The Yankees scored their first run in the second a double by David Adams and made it a one-run game on an infield single by Robinson Cano in the seventh.
The Yankees were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10, including Brett Gardner on third following two stolen bases when Cano made the final out in a thrilling at-bat with Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who jokingly described the ninth as everything a closer could want.
Besides losing consecutive games for the fifth time this season, the Yankees suffered another injury besides Pettitte. Catcher Chris Stewart left the game with a left groin injury after the seventh but the Yankees did not know afterwards if a stint on the disabled list would be needed.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.