Yankees have big problems with their rotation

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Yankees have big problems with their rotation

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- That healthy lead the New York Yankees built up in the first half of the season is about to get tested. The Bronx Bombers put CC Sabathia on the disabled list before their game on Wednesday, and are set to make the same move with fellow starting pitcher Andy Pettitte after he fractured a bone in his left leg when he was hit by a batted ball in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. On one of the most unfortunate days of this season for a team that has had some seriously lousy pitching luck, manager Joe Girardi appeared optimistic. He had some reason to be: His team was still up by 4 1-2 games on Baltimore in the AL East before the Orioles played later Wednesday night. "If we have to score some runs, we'll score some runs," Girardi said. They are probably going to have to score some runs. Right-hander Adam Warren is set to be called up from Triple-A on Thursday to make the start on Friday in Sabathia's place. Freddy Garcia is slated to go Monday in Pettitte's spot, and the Yankees are getting David Phelps to pitch deeper into games in the minors with an eye toward bringing him back to the big club as a starter. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he didn't want to make a trade to replace Pettitte in the rotation. Garcia has improved his velocity and command recently, and has been an effective starter most of his career. That includes a start in a playoff game he made for New York last season. "Phelps is a guy, who, if he were stretched out, would be our prime candidate," Cashman said. "We'll just have to figure it out. I would prefer not to go outside." Pettitte will be gone for much longer than Sabathia, who is only expected to miss two starts while on the 15-day DL because he strained his groin. Pettitte could even be placed on the 60-day DL, though the team estimated his earliest return after six weeks. The Yankees say they expect the break to heal without surgery. Casey Kotchman's low line drive hit Pettitte near his left ankle, the one the left-hander pushes off with. Pettitte took a step toward the ball near the third base line before gently dropping to the infield grass. Pettitte tried to stay in the game, but Girardi removed him when Pettitte came up limping after throwing one live pitch. Pettitte, who spoke to reporters after the game on crutches -- while clutching a tiny plastic bag with a few white pills in it -- said it hurt too much to push off properly when he was facing a batter. "I've been hit in the shin, in that area, so many times and I've never had to come out of a game," Pettitte said. "As soon as I threw that first pitch, I had an awful lot of pain, all the way down to my foot." Pettitte (3-3) retired after the 2010 postseason but returned to the Yankees this spring to shore up New York's pitching rotation, which at the time had already lost Michael Pineda to shoulder surgery. Pettitte, who has a 243-141 career record, is in his 14th season with New York. With Pettitte out, Derek Jeter is now the only Yankee on the field from the club's core four of players who won four World Series titles from 1996-2000. New York closer Mariano Rivera is out because of a season-ending knee injury, and Jorge Posada retired. "No one is going to feel sorry for us," Girardi said. "Guys have to step up." Although Sabathia is the better pitcher, the Yankees may be better able to weather his absence if he misses only two starts. Sabathia felt a twinge in the muscle on the inside of his left leg in the fourth inning of Sunday's win over the New York Mets. He didn't tell anyone about it until he still felt discomfort following a bullpen session Tuesday as he prepared for his next start. "I wanted to go out and pitch Friday, but it's early in the season and I want to be healthy," Sabathia said. Sabathia said he completed his bullpen session, and the injury didn't alter his throwing motion, though "it didn't feel good." Sabathia has been durable throughout his 12 seasons -- this is his third trip to the DL, following two with Cleveland. The most recent one was six years ago, when he missed the first month of the season because of a right oblique strain. He won the AL Cy Young the following year, and the Indians came within one win of taking the AL pennant. They traded Sabathia the following season. He has been healthy for the Yankees until now, and if it had been September or October in the midst of a pennant race, that likely would have been the case. But in June and with the Yankees in first place, Cashman said there is no need for the Yankees to put their ace at risk of aggravating the injury. "It was a one-way conversation," Cashman said. "I did all the talking. I know what he wants to do, but this is what we're going to do." The Yankees have lost enough pitchers to injury this season. Pineda is out for the season after having shoulder surgery -- before he even pitched in a big league game following an offseason trade from Seattle. Rivera tore his ACL and damaged the meniscus when his foot caught near the outfield wall while he was catching fly balls during batting practice before a game in Kansas City. Despite all that, the Yankees have won 15 of 18 games and lead the tough AL East. "We have a pretty experienced club," Girardi said. "We lost the greatest closer of all time, we were able to respond."

Sub-.500 Hawkeyes on four-game losing streak after home loss to Omaha

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USA TODAY

Sub-.500 Hawkeyes on four-game losing streak after home loss to Omaha

Things are not going too well in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes saw their losing streak stretch to four games Saturday with an upsetting 98-89 home loss to Omaha.

Iowa has been a high-scoring team this season, entering the weekend with the Big Ten's No. 2 scoring offense at 85.6 points a game, but it's also been the league's worst defensive team, allowing an average of 85 points a game. And that's before the Mavericks nearly hit the century mark on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes were out-rebounded, including a big advantage for the Mavericks on the offensive boards, where they turned 19 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Omaha's bench outscored Iowa's bench, 37-9, and the Mavericks had a 40-26 scoring edge in the paint.

Trailing by six after allowing 53 first-half points, the Hawkeyes led for just 18 seconds over the game's final 21-plus minutes.

Peter Jok, the Big Ten's leading scorer, poured in 33 points in this one, though efficiency was not his strong suit, going 8-for-21 from the field. He added 10 rebounds for a double-double.

Iowa's losing streak stands at four, the loss to Omaha linking with losses to Virginia, Memphis and Notre Dame. In the last three games, the Hawkeyes have surrendered an average of 96.7 points. In four of their five losses on the season — the heretofore unmentioned one coming against Seton Hall — opponents have scored at least 91 points.

The Hawkeyes' only wins this season have come against Kennesaw State, Savannah State and Texas-Rio Grande Valley.

Iowa has five more non-conference games — including a date with ranked in-state rival Iowa State — prior to the start of Big Ten play at the end of the month.

Illini defense dominant in capping bounce-back week with win over VCU

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USA TODAY

Illini defense dominant in capping bounce-back week with win over VCU

What a difference a week makes.

Last week was a nightmare for Illinois, with a home loss to Winthrop followed by back-to-back double-digit losses to West Virginia and Florida State in Brooklyn.

But things went much differently this week, with Tuesday's win over North Carolina State paired with a Saturday victory over VCU to make for a bounce-back stretch for a team that looked lost just a handful of days ago.

Saturday's win in Miami came in convincing fashion, Illinois victorious by a 64-46 score over a team that's been to six straight NCAA tournaments.

The Illinois defense held VCU to its lowest scoring output since 2005. The Illini held the Rams to just 30.2-percent shooting and 2-for-18 shooting from 3-point range.

The Illini fell behind early in this one but countered VCU's opening success with a 19-3 run that put them ahead by eight in the closing minutes of the first half. That run featured seven points from Leron Black and five from Maloclm Hill, the start of huge games for both guys. A Hill buzzer-beater at the half gave Illinois its biggest lead of the opening 20 minutes at 10.

VCU scored 11 straight points in the early stages of the second half to chop a 12-point Illinois lead all the way down to one. Things stayed close until a 10-3 run by the Illini — featuring eight points from Jalen Coleman-Lands — stretched the Illinois edge back out to double digits, an 11-point lead with about three minutes to go. After a pair of VCU free throws, Hill knocked down a 3-pointer with two and a half minutes left to seal the game, establishing a 12-point advantage the stretched to nearly 20 by the final horn.

Black finished the game with a career-high 18 points, coming close to a double-double with eight rebounds. Hill had 16 points and filled the stat sheet with five assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block. Coleman-Lands was an unusual oh-fer from 3-point range but still scored in double figures with 12 points. Tracy Abrams was a perfect 3-for-3 from deep, accounting for all nine of his points, and had six rebounds and four assists.

Illinois sits at 6-3 on the season, two games better than it was a week ago after back-to-back wins against name opponents. Four more non-conference games are on the docket — against IUPUI, Central Michigan, BYU and Missouri — before the start of Big Ten play at the end of the month.