Murphy injured the knee sliding in awkwardly and colliding with Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez at home plate while trying to score in the bottom of the second inning. Murphy played one inning in the field but then came out of the game.
"I thought I could stay in, but that's because I had so much adrenaline going," Murphy said in the clubhouse after the game. "When I came off the field, I started feeling it. It doesn't feel terrible, but it doesn't feel playable either."
Murphy, who also sported a black and blue right eye, will have an MRI on Thursday, but the Rangers aren't expecting a reprieve. He is the latest key Rangers player to go on the disabled list.
"That's going to kill us," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He's one of our big bats. I know we had four All-Stars, but he's an All-Star in my book. He's going to be sorely missed."
Murphy, a strong candidate to be the American League Rookie of the Year, is hitting .275 with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs. The Rangers haven't announced a replacement but are leaning toward calling up Jason Ellison from Triple-A Oklahoma. Brandon Boggs would likely get first opportunity to replace Murphy in the lineup. Nelson Cruz, who has been tearing up the Pacific Coast League, is not a candidate because he is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle.
"You hate to see this happen to Murph," shortstop Michael Young said. "This is a tough loss. He's one of the most important people on the team. You want to see him finish out his season, but he'll be back strong for the stretch run."
The Rangers' night fell apart after Murphy collided with Rodriguez and was thrown out to end the inning. Chris Davis had given the Rangers a 2-0 lead with a two-run single off Yankees pitcher Sidney Ponson, but that was as good as it got for Texas.
Rangers rookie starter Tommy Hunter looked terrific for two innings on Wednesday, cutting through the opposing lineup with ease in retiring six straight hitters. Three were by strikeout.
Then he got a stiff reminder exactly who he was facing and the Rangers weren't able to get away with starting rookies in two straight games against the Yankees.
The Rangers won with Matt Harrison on the mound on Tuesday, but Hunter gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings and took the loss. Warner Madrigal was the Rangers Rookie Pitcher of the Night, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Hunter.
"He did a great job keeping us in the ballgame," manager Ron Washington said. "Hunter did a good job, too, he just got some balls up. He did a great job going through their lineup the first time and then they started working him. That's what they do."
The Yankees wiped out the Rangers' lead with three runs in the third. The inning started with singles by Robinson Cano and Jose Molina (pinch-hitting for Rodriguez) and an RBI double by Wilson Betemit. That left runners on second and third. Johnny Damon scored one run with a grounder to second and Derek Jeter brought home the other with a single up the middle.
Jason Giambi added a home run in the fourth and Jeter had an RBI double in the fifth. Hunter allowed eight hits and struck out four but did not walk a batter. The Yankees did not draw a walk until Jeter did so with two outs in the ninth.
The Rangers managed just three hits over the final seven innings, including a home run by Young in the sixth. Ponson, let go by the Rangers in June, picked up the victory and is 7-2 with a 4.23 ERA on the year, including 3-1 with a 4.73 ERA in seven starts with the Yankees.
"Ponson pitched a great game," Young said. "A guy like that is especially tough when he gets the lead because he pounds the strike zone and gets the ball down."
The Rangers would have liked to have fared better against their ex-teammate. But losing Murphy hurt worst of all.