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Yanks miss chance to gain in East

Nick RumbelowNick Franklin hit a two-run homer and Jake Odorizzi worked six solid innings, helping to lead the Rays to a 6-3 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

Franklin’s go-ahead blast came in the sixth inning off rookie right-hander Nick Rumbelow, the second reliever to follow Adam Warren, who completed four innings in his first start since June. J.P. Arencibia drove home two insurance runs in the eighth with a flare single to right field off Bryan Mitchell.

The defeat, coupled with the Blue Jays’ 3-2 loss to the Braves at Turner Field, kept the Yankees three games behind Toronto in the American League East race. MORE

Clubhouse report

Adam Warren made his first start since June and held Tampa Bay to two runs and six hits over four innings, walking none and striking out four. Warren threw 42 of 66 pitches for strikes and said that he should be in the neighborhood of 80 to 85 pitches in his next outing, which will feel a lot more like a regular start.

There’s always a transition phase, but I’ve done both roles this year, so I know what I need to do, the routines to get prepared, and I think that helps out,” Warren said. “Once I got into the third inning, got on a roll a little bit, it all started to come back. I got stronger as it went on, which is a good sign for me stamina-wise.”

Jacoby Ellsbury went hitless in four at-bats, extending his slump to 0-for-29, but Girardi said he still wants Ellsbury to fight out of it. They need him to, and as such, Girardi said that he has no plans to dislodge Ellsbury from the leadoff spot.

“I feel I’m an everyday player. You just find a way to have success,” Ellsbury said. “That’s what I’ve been throughout my career. You go through spells but you continue to work hard and put the time in. The guys that do that typically have results.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees remained three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East race. Toronto lost, 3-2, to the Braves at Turner Field, on Andrelton Simmons’ walk-off single.

In Arlington, the Rangers defeated the Astros, 6-5, to take over the American League West lead. The Astros now trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.

Stat so?

Greg Bird homered on the 10th pitch of his fourth inning at-bat. All 10 pitches were fastballs, according to PITCHf/x. Only once since the start of the 2013 season had a Yankee homered to end an at-bat of 10 pitches or more: Brian McCann, on June 18, 2014 vs. Toronto.

“It’s a really good at-bat,” Girardi said. “He fouled off a number of pitches, got a fastball down and worked the count, hit it out to center field. We were hoping that would stick, but we weren’t able to hold them down.”

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Parting words

“It’s tough. It’s tough that we’re not able to hold them down. I thought Adam did a pretty good job, especially after those first couple innings. He started to mix all his pitches in and he pitched pretty well. You kind of wish he was built up more and he could have went deeper, but it is what it is.” — Girardi.

Adam Warren returning to Yankees’ rotation tonight

Adam Warren

Hello from Tropicana Field, where the Yankees will continue their three-game series with the Rays tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Adam Warren is on the mound for the Yankees, making his first start since late June as he returns to the rotation and takes the spot of the injured Nathan Eovaldi.

Jake Odorizzi — also known as Brian McCann’s personal punching bag … we’ll get to that — is getting the starting nod for Tampa Bay. The Yankees have won nine of their last 11 road games, and five of eight games this year at Tropicana Field. The Rays have lost 13 of their last 20 games. 

Playoff picture: The Yankees (79-64) trail the Blue Jays (82-61) by three games in the American League East. Toronto opens a series tonight against the Braves at Turner Field. The Yankees lead the Rangers (76-67) by three games for the first Wild Card spot.

Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 97.6 percent chance of making the postseason and a 12.4 percent chance of winning the division.


Clubhouse report

Alex Rodriguez has been diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee, but he is playing through it. MORE

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Warren should be able throw 65 to 70 pitches today, and the entire back end of the Yankees bullpen (Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson) should be available with Dellin Betances getting the day off Monday.

Jacoby Ellsbury remains at the top of the lineup despite his 0-for-21 skid. Girardi said that he saw some encouraging signs from Ellsbury’s swings last night, and wasn’t tempted to dislodge Ellsbury from the leadoff spot.

The Yankees haven’t set their rotation beyond tomorrow, when Luis Severino will pitch. Girardi said there are no health concerns that they are waiting on.

Jake LaMotta is here! The ‘Raging Bull’ watched batting practice from the field in front of the Rays dugout.

MLB Network’s three to watch

Yankees Rays Baseball

Brian McCann has hit .647 (11-for-17) with three doubles, a triple, three homers and two walks in his career against RHP Jake Odorizzi. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McCann’s 1.471 slugging percentage vs. Odorizzi is the highest of any current AL hitter vs. any current AL pitcher (min. 15 at-bats).

Alex Rodriguez is slugging .735 with five home runs and nine RBIs over his last 10 games.

Evan Longoria, who was batting .394 (13-for-33) with four homers over the first nine games in September, is batting .083 (1-for-12) over his last three games. 

Stat so?

Left-handed hitters have an OPS of .614 against Odorizzi compared to right-handed hitters, who have an OPS of .714.

On this date

Bob Meusel tied a still-standing Major League record with three sacrifice flies in the Yankees’ 6-4 win at Cleveland’s League Park. Don Mattingly is the most recent Yankee to accomplish the feat, doing so on May 3, 1986 vs. Texas.

Quote to note

“I mean, you could think about [sitting Ellsbury], but it’s a pretty hard guy to take out of your lineup. Because hitting, it turns around pretty quickly. We have 19 games to go. He’s extremely important to our lineup. So it’s hard to sit Ells.” — Girardi

Heathcott, Yankees stun Rays in 9th to close gap in East

Alex Rodriguez delivered a game-tying, two-out double and Slade Heathcott launched a three-run homer off Brad Boxberger as the Yankees rallied for four ninth-inning runs and stunned the Rays, 4-1, on Monday at Tropicana Field. MORE

Clubhouse report

New York Yankees' Slade Heathcott, center, celebrates his three-run home run off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger with Chris Young, left, and Brian McCann, right, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Heathcott fires up Yanks with huge home run

“Cloud Nine. Just awesome,” Heathcott said. “I got a good pitch to hit and put a pretty good barrel on it. I don’t think there was much of anyone left in the dugout, so that’s awesome.”

Throwback CC start has Yanks encouraged

“To me, maybe the most encouraging part of the whole night,” A-Rod said. “CC threw the ball as well as he’s thrown it all year. Four pitches for strikes, and it’s not just about speed, it’s throwing the ball with conviction. Tremendous performance by CC. Very encouraging.”

Playoff picture

The Yankees closed within three games of the idle Blue Jays in the American League East race. Toronto opens a series tonight with the Braves at Turner Field. The Yankees lead the Rangers by three games for the first Wild Card.

Stat so?

The 6 2/3 innings marked Sabathia’s first scoreless start since April 7, 2013, at Detroit, with 63 starts in between.

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Parting words

“That’s probably the most excited we’ve been all year. Every game from here on out is important. We were getting shut down for eight innings, and came through there in the ninth, all with two outs. Alex obviously with a big hit, couple of guys get on base, and Slade goes oppo. He’s a strong kid, and he’s fresh, he hasn’t been playing much. Put a great swing on it against a real good pitcher, and we came through.” — Brett Gardner

Yanks counting on CC Sabathia to take another step forward

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia delivers to Tampa Bay Rays' Logan Forsythe during first inning of a baseball game on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Hello from Tropicana Field, where the Yankees will open a three-game series with the Rays tonight at 7:10 p.m. ET.

CC Sabathia is on the mound for the Yankees; Erasmo Ramirez is getting the starting nod for Tampa Bay.

The Yankees have won eight of their last 10 road games, and have won four of seven games this year at Tropicana Field. The Rays have lost 12 of their last 19 games. 

Playoff picture: The Yankees (78-64) trail the Blue Jays (82-61) by 3 1/2 games in the American League East. Toronto has the night off. The Yankees lead the Rangers (75-67) by three games for the first Wild Card spot. Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 96.6 percent chance of making the postseason, but just a 8.8 percent chance of winning the division.


Clubhouse report

Joe Girardi said that he expects about 100 pitches tonight from Sabathia, who is coming off 4 2/3 innings of three-run (one earned), four hit ball vs. the Orioles in his return from the disabled list. Girardi said that he thought Sabathia’s changeup and slider seemed effective against Baltimore, and he showed decent location with his fastball. They’ll be looking for him to keep that consistency going tonight. Sabathia is once again wearing a brace on his right knee.

Adam Warren is listed as tomorrow’s probable starter. There’s a chance that he could be used tonight in an emergency, and if that were to happen, the Yankees would roll with a bullpen game. Warren is expected to throw about 65 pitches tomorrow if he does start. Luis Severino is a definite to start on Wednesday.

Jacoby Ellsbury is hitless in his last 17 at-bats and has one hit in his last 25. Girardi said that Ellsbury “feels pretty good, he’s been just a little bit off. He’s doing everything he can to get back on track.” Girardi also said there is no temptation to dislodge Ellsbury from the leadoff spot. 

MLB Network’s three to watch

Evan LongoriaEvan Longoria is slashing .393/.507/.820 (24-for-61) with six homers against Sabathia; his 75 plate appearances against Sabathia are his most against any pitcher in his career.

Logan Forsythe is hitting .299/.373/.625 against left-handed pitching this season. He ranks third in the AL in slugging percentage against southpaws behind Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz (minimum 100 plate appearances).

Carlos Beltran is hitting .310 (9-for-29) during a seven-game hitting streak, and is slashing .305/.377/.527 since the All-Star break. 

On this date

Sept. 14, 1999: The Yankees defeat the Blue Jays, 10-6, at SkyDome. Bernie Williams’ eighth-inning grand slam ties the game and Paul O’Neill’s grand slam in the ninth puts the Yanks ahead.

Quote to note

Girardi’s explanation for why Rob Refsnyder hasn’t seen the field yet this month:

“The one thing is, he spent the whole year in Triple-A. He doesn’t know the pitching staffs up here. If he would have been up playing the last two months, it probably would have been different. But he wasn’t, so we’re sticking with the guys that have been here and played at this level and have a better understanding of what people are doing to them.

Cashman: Stephen Drew is still Yanks’ “best option” at second base

New York Yankees second baseman Stephen Drew runs to the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Monday, April 20, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

TORONTO — Stephen Drew has stopped fretting over his .195 batting average, instead focusing on what he can do to help the Yankees win on a nightly basis, and general manager Brian Cashman rewarded that effort with a strong vote of confidence on Friday afternoon.

Cashman said that while he is always trying to improve the club if possible, he does not anticipate any significant changes at second base. A push to acquire Jose Reyes is unlikely, and so Drew is expected to keep his job as the starter with prospect Rob Refsnyder remaining in the Minors until rosters expand in September.

“There’s a reason that Drew has been getting the significant bulk of the playing time this year. Obviously he’s the best option that we’ve had,” Cashman said. “When you look outside the organization, there hasn’t been anything that we could secure that would change that.”

“Stephen Drew cares about winning, he’s busted his tail, he’s helped us win some games. The batting average isn’t where he or we would hope, but at the same time I appreciate that he’s killing it out there every day for us, trying to do everything he possibly can to help us win. At times he’s helped us do that.”

Drew hit his 15th home run and scored a career-high four runs in Thursday’s 8-6 victory over the Indians in Cleveland, and the Yankees have been satisfied with his defense. Of Drew’s 59 hits this season, 30 have been for extra bases (14 doubles, one triple).

“For me right now, it’s more or less, ‘What can I do to help this team win?'” said Drew, who was out of the lineup Friday against left-hander David Price, with Brendan Ryan making the start at second base. 
”I’m not even worried about numbers anymore. We’re still in the chase, so when it comes down to it, it’s just playing well and playing good defense. Anything I can do to help this team win, that’s what I try to do.”

Asked about the idea of promoting Refsnyder, who played four games earlier this season and is batting .282/.376/.415 in 103 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Cashman said that the Yankees would prefer to play Drew.

“More likely in September, I think you’ll see [Refsnyder] again, unless something happens between now and then with an injury,” Cashman said.

CBS Sports reported on Friday that the Yankees have had some contact with the Rockies about Reyes, who has cleared waivers, but Cashman said that the Yankees are fine with Didi Gregorius as their shortstop.
Reyes played some second base with the Mets in 2004, but Cashman said he had “no idea” if Reyes could still handle that position.

“The [second basemen] we’ve got are doing everything they possibly can to help us,” Cashman said. “My job is to always explore if there’s areas that can be improved. We’re at that time of year where if there are any areas that need to be improved, it’s hard to do because of the waiver wire stuff.”


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