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Yankee4Life

Yankee News For Yankee Fans

581 posts in this topic

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Jacoby Ellsbury #22 of the New York Yankees walks up to the plate for the first time at Fenway Park since signing with the Yankkes against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Fenway Park on April 22, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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New York Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury crosses home plate to score on a single by Derek Jeter during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, April 22, 2014.

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Jacoby Ellsbury #22 of the New York Yankees runs to second base after hitting an RBI double in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Fenway Park on April 22, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Fenway Park on April 22, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Yankees demolish Red Sox to take two of three from rivals

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Carlos Beltran accepts congratulations from Mark Teixeira after scoring a run in the first inning of the Yankees' 14-5 victory over the Red Sox Thursday night at Fenway Park.

BOSTON — After watching the Red Sox commit five fielding errors Thursday night at Fenway Park, you wonder how they transfer food from their plate to their mouths.

With a chance to cop two wins in a three-game series against their AL East blood rivals, the Red Sox handed the Yankees a 14-5 victory, witnessed by 37,356 disappointed customers.

When the Yankees weren’t reaching base on mistakes, they were advancing around the bases courtesy of three wild pitches and a dozen walks — five of which were issued by first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp, who worked the ninth inning of the ugly affair.

Though five of the 14 runs were unearned, the Yankees did rake Red Sox hurlers for 14 hits and presented CC Sabathia with a 7-0 bulge to start the home third inning.

Sabathia overcame control issues in the first four frames when he hit two batters and walked three. But the early ditch Felix Doubront and the leaky defense created was too deep to climb out of.

“We scored some runs early and I tried to put up zeroes,’’ said Sabathia, who gave up two runs, three hits, walked three and fanned eight. The last five strikeouts were looking.

The victory pushed the Yankees’ record against the defending World Series champions to 5-2 and ended a road trip that opened against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., with a 4-3 record.

“Two tough clubs, Tampa and here,’’ manager Joe Girardi said.

Of course, losing No. 3 starter Ivan Nova for the year because of Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda for 10 games to his pine tar suspension took some of the luster off the winning record.

“The important thing is 4-3,’’ Girardi said. “We have to replace Nova and somebody has to step up.’’

Yangervis Solarte stopped a 0-for-14 skid with a two-run double in the second inning and finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury (3-for-6) drove in three runs. Derek Jeter (2-for-5) had two RBIs and Brett Gardner and Brian Roberts scored four runs each. Mark Teixeira homered for the first time this season in the three-run third off Doubront.

Up 12-2 entering the home seventh, Girardi summoned right-hander Shane Greene for his major league debut but had to replace him with Adam Warren with the bases loaded, one out and two runs in.

The three Red Sox runs in the inning were unearned because of a fielding error by Jeter.

To get David Robertson his first game action since April 6, Girardi used his closer for the final three outs.

Though they acknowledged it’s nice to beat the Red Sox, Jeter and Ellsbury weren’t ready to throw dirt on them.

“They’re the team to beat, bottom line,” Jeter said. “They won the championship. They’re the defending champions, so they’re the team to beat.

“It’s good that we’ve played them well now, but we’ll see them again. I’m sure they’ll be ready for us.”

Ellsbury, who played a big part in the Red Sox winning last year’s World Series, said he understands what capturing two of three means.

“It’s obviously early in the year, but any time you can take away wins from a team like this, it’s huge,” Ellsbury said. “They’re the world champions. I feel like this division’s always a dogfight. Every game matters. Hopefully we can keep playing well.”

If the Yankees find other teams as accommodating as the Red Sox were Thursday, it would make it easier.

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Improved depth makes a huge impact for the Yanks

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Farm system products John Ryan Murphy and Dellin Betances came up big in Saturday's win.

Each and every win means a great deal in the American League East, maybe even more so this April as the five teams feast upon one another and keep it compact from top to bottom.

Within such a fierce competition, certain victories produce a surplus of positive energy for an organization. When David Robertson secured the Yankees’ 4-3 triumph over the Angels Saturday at Yankee Stadium, such a win went onto the docket.

The Yankees prevailed because rookie catcher John Ryan Murphy delivered his first major-league home run, as well as his first multi-hit game (he had two) and multi-RBI game (three). And because pitcher Dellin Betances, no longer a rookie, threw well enough to record his first career win.

Roster depth always proves imperative to survive this division and qualify for the playoffs. The Yankees lacked it last year. They have possessed it so far this young season, surprisingly so, and their much-maligned farm system earned a gold star Saturday.

“Those kids have worked really hard and persevered through the journey to get to contribute in New York,” Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ scouting director, wrote in a text message. “I’m very proud of them and happy for the scouts and coaches who helped them.”

Oppenheimer and the Yankees drafted Betances in the eighth round of the 2006 draft, when Joe Torre still managed the big-league club and Bernie Williams still played for the team, and signed him for $1 million. Three years after that, Murphy came aboard in the second round and signed for $1.25 million.

Also in the summer of 2009, Betances underwent Tommy John surgery, the lowest point in a grueling path upward. Last year, frustrated by Betances’ continuing struggles, the Yankees converted him from a starter to a reliever, and he made the 2014 club in spring training.

Murphy’s road to the majors has been smooth by comparison — he earned the call-up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when backup catcher Francisco Cervelli went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring — and he put his longtime minor-league teammate in position for his milestone with some early hitting. The 22-year-old came up to bat in the bottom of the second with the Yankees trailing, 1-0, and with the bases loaded and two outs. Angels starting pitcher Hector Santiago balked in Mark Texieira from third base to tie the game at 1-1, and then Murphy punched a two-run single into right field, scoring Brett Gardner and Brian Roberts for a 3-1 Yankees lead.

After the Angels tied the score with two runs in the fourth against starter Vidal Nuno, Murphy slammed a fifth-inning, leadoff, first-pitch homer to left-center against Santiago that gave the Yankees a 4-3 edge.

“I wanted to be aggressive,” Murphy said. “Not playing a lot, I want to be aggressive when I do play. That was a good fastball to hit.” He got the ball back from the fan who retrieved it in return for three autographed balls, some conversation time and a tour of the Yankees’ clubhouse.

“He had a really good day,” manager Joe Girardi said of his No. 2 catcher.

Betances was the pitcher of record at that juncture, after relieving Nuno in the top of the fifth with Mike Trout on first base, one out and the reinvigorated Albert Pujols at bat. Following a balk, Betances retired Pujols on a grounder to shortstop and Howie Kendrick on a pop fly to Roberts, then picked up three more outs before Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and Robertson finished the work shift.

“It feels good,” Betances said. “I believe in myself.”

“I’m happy for the kid. He’s been through a lot,” Girardi said. “He’s had to change roles. He’s had to fight to get here. He’s thrown the ball extremely well for us. Probably today was the toughest situation we put him in so far. And he responded extremely well.”

Throw in Nuno keeping the Yankees in the game, and it marked a good day for organizational depth. Throw in Robertson’s save, and it served as a model day for the club’s drafting and development.

No one would deny the Yankees’ farm system experienced an absolutely brutal 2013, and that contributed significantly to the major-league team’s October respite. Saturday marked just one day, just one win.

Nevertheless, in a season that has felt like a fresh start for this organization, it felt, quite simply, like a day that never would have worked out last year. And an encouraging sign things can work out differently this year.

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Dellin Betances finally realizing his potential

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Dellin Betances of the Yankees pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, April 26, 2014.

Most of the W's in Dellin Betances' career have been questions. When will he be able to command his pitches? Will he be able to make the transition to the bullpen? Why isn't he progressing to Yankees stardom more quickly?

Betances answered some of those questions Saturday with his first big-league W (as in win), pitching two scoreless innings in the middle of a 4-3 victory over the Angels. He was the first arm out of the bullpen, entering in a critical situation with one on, one out, Albert Pujols at the plate and the score tied at 3 in the fifth.

Even after a strange balk that he still didn't understand after the game, he remained focused and got Pujols to ground out before Howie Kendrick popped up to end the inning.

"He had a huge day for us," Joe Girardi said. "Probably today was the toughest situation we've put him in so far, and he responded extremely well."

Those who have been around Betances during his mostly minor-league career are not surprised to see the Yankees' confidence in him growing almost as big as his imposing 6-8, 260-pound frame.

"I've always known he's had great stuff," fellow reliever Adam Warren said. "He's got the best stuff of us out there. Now he's starting to command the ball, so it's scary how good he can be."

Added John Ryan Murphy, who caught Betances Saturday: "When he's in the strike zone, he's unhittable. He's in the mid-90s and has that breaking ball. When he's doing that, he's going to have a lot of success."

It was Betances' eighth scoreless appearance in nine games this season. After he got out of the fifth, he posted two strikeouts in the sixth and left a runner on first after a walk. He struck out J.B. Shuck to open the seventh before allowing a single to Collin Cowgill that prompted Girardi to move on to the next arm from the bullpen.

Betances said he didn't receive any souvenirs from his first win. No scorecard, no game ball, no commemorative dirt from the mound. Anyway, he seemed more jazzed by another first: Murphy's first major-league home run, a drive to left on the first pitch of the fifth that broke a 3-3 tie.

After landing on the fan side of the leftfield wall, the baseball found its way to Murphy's back pocket in the postgame clubhouse. "He definitely did the job today, and I'm so happy for him," Betances said.

Murphy said he tried to be aggressive in his at-bats because he gets so few of them. He was at the plate for all four of the Yankees' runs; a bases-loaded balk followed by a two-run single in the second and then the mid-game game-winner.

"It's special," Girardi said of Murphy's homer. "And it even means more because we win the game by one run and what he did, so he'll never forget it. It's a great moment for him."

That Betances' first career victory came out of the bullpen was, he said, "kind of weird." He'd been a starter for most of his career and was pegged early in his tenure with the Yankees as a future golden arm. But like those exciting young pitchers who preceded him -- Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes -- his inconsistency led him to be a reliever.

"He's had to change roles and fight to get here,'' Girardi said, "and he's thrown the ball extremely well."

It's a role to which he is still adjusting.

"Every time I go out there, the experience helps me," Betances said. "A lot of the guys have given me good advice in the bullpen, and even the starters. For me, it's just having the confidence and the faith and thank God everything has gone well."

It's gone so well that in the not-so-distant future, Betances could be the guy who comes into games not in the fifth but in the seventh or even eighth.

Perhaps, one day, even the ninth.

"I'm just trying to do my job every time my name is called," he said with a meekness that does not match his moxie on the mound. "That's all I can do. Whatever role they put me in, I'm just trying to do the best I can at that situation."

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Masahiro Tanaka #19 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 27, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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New York Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki hits a run scoring ground out in the fifth inning their baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium, Sunday, April 27, 2014, in New York.

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Catcher John Ryan Murphy a revelation for Yankees

The Yankees' catching prospects have been over-hyped for years, but Murphy - who just got the courage to ask the Yankees to call him John Ryan, not JR - has been an unexpected surprise.

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John Ryan Murphy celebrates his sixth-inning home run Saturday, his first in the big leagues.

For years we have been hearing about the catching prospects that were supposed to make the Yankees set at the position for the future. Except Jesus Montero was traded, and has been a bust in Seattle; Austin Romine hasn’t hit enough to stick in the big leagues; and Gary Sanchez is still only 21-years-old, even if it seems he’s been in the organization for a decade.

Now along comes John Ryan Murphy, the one catching prospect who didn’t get much hype.

He made a splash on Saturday with three RBI and his first major-league home run, but for years he was so anonymous that somewhere along the way the Yankees started referring to him as J.R. And it wasn’t until last winter that he worked up the courage to ask that he be called John Ryan, as he had been all of his life.

“During the offseason my parents wanted me to say something,’’ Murphy said on Sunday, “so I did.’’

That was after his first exposure to the big leagues last September, during which Murphy made a strong impression. So much so that when Francisco Cervelli went down with a hamstring injury 10 days ago, the ballclub called him up instead of Romine, even though Murphy was hitting under .200 at the time.

“We know what kind of player he is,’’ Joe Girardi explained.

Above all else, of course, he’s a backup, because the Yankees signed Brian McCann last winter after growing tired of waiting for the catching pipeline to produce results.

And Sanchez is still regarded as the high-ceiling prospect, with the type of home run power to potentially make him a star someday.

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If not with the Yankees, at least one scout can see John Ryan Murphy as a starter for another team, which could make him a trade chip for the Yankees if they seek added depth for their depleted starting rotation.

But suffice to say, Murphy has opened some eyes around the Yankees, and scouts from other organizations say he has the all-around game to be a capable starting catcher in the big leagues. At least one scout also made the case that Murphy could well be a trade chip at some point this season, if the Yankees need a starting pitcher now that they’ve lost Ivan Nova for the season.

“Some team might see him as a guy who could start for them,’’ the scout said. “He’s solid with the bat and behind the plate.’’

The Yankees say he’s got some veteran savvy even at 22, calling pitches based on swings he’s reading from hitters, doing the little things to help a pitcher.

“He’s got a feel,’’ said Joe Girardi. “He’s a student of the game.’’

Maybe that shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that he majored in baseball in high school — so to speak, anyway. Murphy attended high school at the IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he worked on preparing for a baseball career every school day, either in the speed-and-conditioning room or on the field.

“It’s kind of like a college schedule,’’ Murphy said. “You have classes in the morning, you go to lunch, and then it’s baseball every afternoon.’’

Murphy said young athletes come from all over the world to attend the academy, and for many it can’t be an easy decision, giving up a normal high school existence in pursuit of athletic excellence. For Murphy the decision was made easier by the fact that he grew up in Bradenton, primarily because his mother, Caroline, was the admissions director for the IMG Academy. In fact, Murphy said his mother has been at IMG “since Day 1,’’ having been recruited by famous tennis instructor Nick Bollettieri to help launch the academy that began with tennis and eventually branched out to other sports.

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Yankees manager Joe Girardi likes John Ryan Murphy’s (l.) feel for the game.

Murphy explained that his mom, a Cuban native, grew up in Puerto Rico, where her father belonged to a tennis club where Bollettieri taught. That eventually led to him asking her to come work for him when he opened his tennis academy.

So Murphy was exposed to it early, and though he said his parents gave him the choice of going there or to a normal high school, by then he loved baseball enough to want to take the opportunity.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,’’ he said. “Maturity level, I was ahead of other high school draft picks because of the way IMG prepares you. With the staff they have there, the experience in baseball, it’s like a college.’’

Whatever prepared him, Murphy has "a feel,’’ as Girardi said, that shows itself in subtle ways. On Saturday, in a big situation, when he wanted Howie Kendrick to think Shawn Kelley was going to throw a two-strike slider, he smacked his glove on the ground, perhaps convincing the hitter a down-and-away slider was coming.

“Sometimes you try to trick ‘em,’’ Murphy said with a smile.

Kendrick didn’t bite on the fastball, but he did strike out swinging chasing the slider that followed. Maybe Murphy’s savvy was a factor.

Maybe he’ll be here for awhile.

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Mark Teixeira looks and feels healthy in latest Yankees win

Mark Teixeira turned on a 95 mph fastball from the Angels’ Garrett Richards on Sunday night and planted it in the second deck in right field for his second home run in four games. The ball was crushed much like he used to crush them during his first three seasons in pinstripes.

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Mark Teixeira hits his second home run in four games on Sunday night.

So far the new additions to the Yankees lineup this season have not disappointed. Whatever wistful feelings accompanied the departure of Robinson Cano to Seattle have been softenly quickly by the impactful arrivals of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. And now there may be one more arrival – not a new one – who could be every bit as important.

Mark Teixeira turned on a 95 mph fastball from the Angels’ Garrett Richards on Sunday night and planted it in the second deck in right field for his second home run in four games. The ball was crushed much like he used to crush them during his first three seasons in pinstripes, when he averaged 37 homers and 114 RBI.

A right wrist injury that ultimately required surgery limited Teixeira to just 15 games last season. He hit his first homer this year from the right side on Thursday in Boston. It was encouraging, but the concern always has been how his power would recover from the left side. He said Sunday’s blast felt like a pre-surgery swing.

Ask what encouraged him most, Teixeira said, “I was not protecting it. You look at the swings last year when I was trying to play through my injury.

They were long. They were loopy. (I was) coming around the ball, letting go with one hand and protecting it.

“That swing tonight was a two-handed short, quick swing on a 95 mph fastball inside. That’s a good sign.”

Slowing his comeback was a hamstring injury that landed him on the DL just three games into the season. That, too, looked pretty good as he scored the team’s first run by going from first to third after a walk and scoring on a groundout.

“My legs are getting better. (Being in) baseball shape is different than regular shape. . . . It’s a different kind of feeling,” Teixeira said. “My legs feel pretty good right now. There’s still a little while to go.”

In 11 games thus far he is hitting .229 with two homers and five RBI and has a .386 on-base percentage.

“I’ve been pretty pleased with the at-bats he’s given us. He’s been patient and taken his walks. He’s a little bit behind most of the guys,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s what we’re used to Mark doing: getting big hits and big RBI.”

Teixeira said before Sunday’s game that the wrist isn’t at full strength yet, but that it’s coming and that he expected power hitting to come along as it gets there. “My wrist will keep getting stronger all year and it’s exciting,” he said. “It will make my swing more compact and powerful.”

GRIPPING NEWS: The Yankees will try to keep suspended righthander Michael Pineda sharp by having him pitch a simulated game somewhere on Tuesday and a bullpen session Friday before he comes back to face the Angels in Anaheim next Monday.

He’s on a 10-day suspension after being caught with pine tar on the Fenway Park mound last Wednesday.

After Pineda threw a bullpen session on Sunday, Girardi said the righty needed to “see live hitters somewhere” on Tuesday. “We should be able to keep him sharp, I hope,” he said.

Given the Southern California weather, it’s expected Pineda will have no trouble gripping the ball.

RYAN RECOVERING: Infielder Brendan Ryan, on the DL since the season opened with a cervical spine injury, began a minor-league rehab assignment Sunday by going 2-for-5 for Single-A Tampa.

Girardi said the goal is to get him about 50 at-bats before he can return to the roster.45

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Bad to worse for Pineda with back injury; Ellsbury also hurt

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Michael Pineda, Jacoby Ellsbury

After watching injuries wreck their 2013 season almost before it started the Yankees are again dancing with the MRI tube before April turns to May.

Ivan Nova is done for the season due to Tommy John surgery that was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Tuesday, the same day Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from the starting lineup with a left-hand problem and Michael Pineda pulled himself from a simulated game in Tampa.

Following a MRI exam in Tampa, Pineda was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of the teres major muscle on the right side of his back which is dangerously close to the shoulder area. Pineda, who missed the last two seasons following shoulder surgery, is expected to be out three or four weeks according to general manager Brian Cashman.

Since Pineda is serving a 10-game suspension for loading his neck with pine tar last week in Boston, he can’t be placed on the disabled list until Monday when the sentence ends.

“The good thing is that it’s not his shoulder,’’ Girardi said of Pineda’s injury. “He threw the first inning and felt a little stiffness and pulled himself.’’

As for Ellsbury, the team’s leadoff hitter and center fielder, Girardi said “His hand has been sore the last couple of days. He had a test [Monday] and the test came back good. “There is no structural damage, it’s just sore.’’

Girardi said there wasn’t one moment when Ellsbury injured the hand he uses on top of the bat.

“It’s been bothering him for a few days and he has been playing through it,’’ Girardi said of Ellsbury, who was 1-for-10 in the previous three games.

“Knowing what [weather] is in front of us [Wednesday] I might give him two days [off].’’

Heavy rains are predicted Wednesday. If the Yankees can’t play Wednesday they have plans for a one-gate doubleheader Thursday with the games starting at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Brett Gardner, who missed Sunday night’s game with a bruised left foot, started in center field and batted first in Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to the Mariners. He went 2-for-5.

David Phelps, who is scheduled to start Wednesday night against the Mariners in Pineda’s place, is the likely candidate to start Monday night in Anaheim.

“I would assume he would do that,’’ said Girardi who expects Phelps, who has been in the pen since Opening Day, to be able to throw 70 to 75 pitches. Phelps has worked nine games in relief. The 57 pitches he threw April 23 in Boston while following Pineda, who was ejected, are the most Phelps has thrown this season.

Phelps knows his job remains somewhat undefined.

“I’ve been doing this my whole career, so it’s nothing new,” said Phelps.“I’ve learned to enjoy pitching out of the bullpen. But obviously, this is where I want to be.”

With Pineda headed for the DL, Phelps could be in the rotation for a while.

Alfonso Soriano needs eight hits for 1,000 in the AL. With 1,077 hits in the NL, Soriano would become the seventh player all-time with at least 1,000 in each league. If Soriano gets to 1,000 hits in the AL he would become the first player in history to record 1,000 hits, score 500 runs, drive in 500 runs, hit 100 homers and steal 100 bases in each league.

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Mark Teixeira needs to get Yankees offense going as pitching injuries mount

The Yankees starting rotation suddenly has quite a few question marks, which they will need to counter with a big offense. Who better than Teixeira to be the catalyst?

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New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira #25 homers in the 2nd inning during game action between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

For the first few weeks of the season, the Yankees’ rotation appeared to be their greatest strength.

Now that Ivan Nova has been lost for the year following Tuesday’s Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda will miss the next three or four weeks with a strained muscle in his upper back, the Yankees will need their hitters to help carry the load.

So Mark Teixeira might be finding his power stroke at the perfect time.

Teixeira homered in Tuesday night’s loss to the Mariners, his second straight game with a long ball and his third home run in the past five games.

“It tells me I’m getting better; I’m getting close,” Teixeira said. “When you start driving the ball, you know that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. That’s a good sign.”

Teixeira is hitting .231 in 12 games, continuing a recent trend during which he has posted a .248 batting average since the beginning of the 2010 season.

Despite the low average, Teixeira’s on-base percentage is a respectable .346 during that stretch, including a .375 mark so far this season. While his home run ratio is roughly the same as it’s been his entire career — he has averaged 36 homers per 162 games since 2010 compared to 37 for his career — his .480 slugging percentage during the past four-plus seasons is 45 points lower than his career mark of .525.

Teixeira is only 2-for-10 during the first four games of the current home stand, but both hits have left the yard. He’s also reached base at a .429 clip, showing patience at the plate as he gets back into the swing of things following a stint on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

“I think he’s feeling more comfortable as he’s getting at-bats,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought if you look at the season, it got interrupted when he went on the DL for two weeks. He’s swinging the bat well, he’s being patient and he’s walking. He’s doing the things that he needs to do, that we’re used to seeing from Mark. I do think he probably feels more comfortable up there.”

Teixeira’s surgically repaired right wrist may have benefited from his trip to the DL, and while he admits that he will “have to keep up with it” when it comes to maintenance, the wrist itself no longer appears to be an issue.

“Still a long way to go; still haven’t played that many games,” Teixeira said. “I’d like to get better obviously, but the last couple of days I’ve put some good swings on balls, and it’s good to see the ball getting out of the park and driving it. It’s a good sign.”

RAIN KING

Wednesday’s game against Seattle was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for Monday, June 2 at 7:05 p.m.

Hiroki Kuroda will face lefty Roenis Elias Thursday night, meaning the Yankees won’t have to face Felix Hernandez in this series as originally scheduled.

Fans holding paid tickets for Wednesday’s game may use them for the June 2 rescheduled game or exchange them for any regular-season game at Yankee Stadium within 12 months, subject to availability.

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Masahiro Tanaka calls start to season 'so-so' despite being 3-0

He’s struck out 46 over that span, the third-highest total for any pitcher in his first five career starts since 1900. Considering the state of the wounded and/or ineffective Yankee rotation, where would the club be without Tanaka’s contributions?

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Masahiro Tanaka is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA but is not satisfied with his start to the season.

The Yankees’ ace — whether he accepts that title or not — pitches Saturday afternoon against the Rays and no doubt Masahiro Tanaka is hoping he throws better than he did in his most recent outing.

In fact, Tanaka wants to improve his overall performance, giving himself a harsh self-assessment on his season so far:

“So-so,” Tanaka said, waving his hand and answering in English for emphasis.

That’s a pretty tough review for a guy who is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts. He’s struck out 46 over that span, the third-highest total for any pitcher in his first five career starts since 1900. Considering the state of the wounded and/or ineffective Yankee rotation, where would the club be without Tanaka’s contributions?

But Tanaka is having none of it.

“I’m not satisfied with how I’ve pitched,” he said though an interpreter. “I’ve given up runs, particularly early in the game. That part kind of bothers me. There are other parts as well. But that’s one thing that has bothered me.”

Joe Girardi likes what he’s seen, obviously: “I think he’s done pretty good. I think he’s adjusted well and I think he’s pitched very good games for us.

“I think he expects an awful lot from himself,” the manager added, trying to explain why Tanaka is so tough on himself. “I think he set a high standard for himself last year (when Tanaka was 24-0 in Japan) and I don’t know if he’s comparing it to that. He expects a lot from himself and I think it’s what really pushes him to be great.”

Tanaka won’t even consider the idea that he might be the Yankees’ ace right now, even though he’s clearly passed CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda as a more effective pitcher, at least so far. He even shook his head firmly when asked for his reaction to that idea.

“No,” he said. “It’s not something that people around are saying, and I don’t look at it that way at all. All I’m doing is trying to get out there game by game and beat the opponent and bring a victory to the team.”

Tanaka received a no-decision against the Angels on Sunday, allowing two runs in 6.1 innings. But he walked four, or twice as many as his total for the entire season entering that start.

You can bet Tanaka wasn’t happy and he says he’s already made a few adjustments.

“I did actually work on some stuff,” he added. “Just going to go out there and try not to walk guys like I did the last time.”

Tanaka, who will face righty Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 6.85 ERA), is facing Tampa for the first time. Some have opined Tanaka will encounter more trouble with teams once they have seen him more than once. Not surprisingly, that does not make Tanaka fret.

“That’s something that I don’t worry about at all,” he said. “Back in Japan there’s only five teams that I faced. So basically you’re facing the same guys over and over again.

“So you adjust according to how they adjust. Basically right now my head is not there. I’m not worried about that.”

Besides, as Girardi says, Tanaka has shown the ability to thrive with in-game adjustments. It’s how he’s stuck around in starts where he’s given up early runs.

“I think it just comes with experience,” Tanaka said. “Since becoming a pro, I’ve pitched in over 1,000 innings and obviously day one up to now, I feel that I’m able to adjust myself way better in the games compared to the times when, say my first year and second year.”

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The Yankees bullpen prospect who’s dominating at Trenton

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Yankees prospect Branden Pinder pitches against Erie SeaWolves in May 2013.

A prospect may be working his way onto the Yankees’ major league radar — and he is just 70 miles southwest of New York City.

Branden Pinder, a 25-year-old right-handed reliever drafted in the 16th round of the 2011 draft, is off to a flying start for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Through 10 games, Pinder has thrown 13 shutout innings, allowing just six hits and one walk. He has struck out 12.

“He has the mindset of a reliever, [he’s] really aggressive mentally,” Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. “He has a mid-90s fastball — it has good life and comes from a good angle. He’s mostly fastball/slider, and he’s trying to develop a changeup.”

The 6-foot-3 Pinder, drafted out of Long Beach State, began his collegiate career at Santa Ana College before transferring to play his junior and senior seasons for the 49ers.

After being drafted in 2011, Pinder started his Yankees career at short-season Class A Staten Island and dominated. He posted a 1.16 ERA in 31 innings, striking out 38 while allowing just 16 hits and five walks.

After spending most of 2012 and part of 2013 at High-A Tampa, Pinder was promoted to Trenton, where he appeared to hit a speed bump. In 19 games, he posted a 6.29 ERA and walked 16 batters in just 24¹/₃ innings.

But this season has been a different story.

“He’s been pitching down in the zone really well with his fastball,” Phelps said, when asked why Pinder’s performance has improved. “He would get in trouble last year — too many balls slightly elevated, too many good pitches to hit. [This year] he’s down in the zone, expanding [the strike zone] with his breaking ball better. He’s aggressive, getting ahead in counts.”

Though Pinder is making good progress, Phelps said his slider still needs work.

“He’s thrown some really good ones — he just needs to get consistent, pitch to both sides of the plate, expand [the strike zone],” Phelps said. “That’s the big thing he’s focusing on.”

Phelps said he could see Pinder, armed with a plus-fastball and a developing arsenal of off-speed pitches, as a setup man in the major leagues.

“Hopefully, he’s a seventh, eighth-inning guy in the future,” he said. “Every level gives these guys a challenge, and makes them better. [At upper levels], they’re not swinging and missing. They raise their awareness to make better pitches.

“It’s always tough to say [where he could fit], but he has success when he’s ahead in the count and he’s aggressive. If his slider keeps progressing, he’ll have an out pitch. They can trust him late in the game.”

Pinder’s rise has been rapid, and it’s only natural to dream about what could come if he sustains his performance.

Nevertheless, Phelps said Pinder is maintaining a level head.

“He’s not one of those guys that’s worried about what’s going on somewhere else,” he said. “That’s not him at all. ‘Give me the ball, and I’m ready to go.’ He keeps it simple.”

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In Yankees bullpen, Dellin Betances finally getting whiff of success

Betances now has 28 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, to go with a 1.72 ERA. That computes to 16.09 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest rate of any pitcher in the big leagues who has thrown at least 15 innings.

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Dellin Betance's emergence is one more reason the Yankee bullpen could be a savior for this team.

By the eighth inning, Masahiro Tanaka had further stamped himself as the perhaps the best $175 million the Yankees have ever spent, willing his way through seven innings on a day when his splitter had no bite.

But the 9-3 victory over the Rays on Saturday wasn’t a blowout yet, 6-3 Yankees at the time, and the bullpen was depleted in part because of Friday’s 14-inning loss.

Enter Dellin Betances, a washout as a minor-league starter only a couple of years ago, but suddenly an eye-popping strikeout machine as a big-league reliever whose emergence is one more reason the bullpen could be a savior for this team.

In working a scoreless inning, the 6-8 righthander chalked up two more strikeouts, one of them especially impressive as he made Evan Longoria look bad chasing a slider.

As a result, Betances now has 28 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, to go with a 1.72 ERA. That computes to 16.09 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest rate of any pitcher in the big leagues who has thrown at least 15 innings.

When he was asked if he were aware of the numbers, Betances smiled rather sheepishly and said:

“I don’t really think about strikeouts … but the guys tell me about them.”

This is the kind of dominance the Yankees once projected for a kid from Brooklyn they drafted eight years ago, especially as he developed a hard-breaking slider to go with a 97 mph fastball.

But the closer Betances got to the big leagues, the more issues he had with control, never mind command. At Triple-A in 2012 he issued 69 walks in 74 innings, or two fewer walks than he had strikeouts, so the Yankees demoted him to Double-A, and when that didn’t help, decided to try him as a reliever.

Two years later his walk rate is way down as his confidence continues to rise.

“I believe in myself, I think that’s the biggest thing,” the 26-year-old said Saturday. “My confidence is where it needs to be. Mechanically I’ve gotten better at staying back, letting my arm catch up with my delivery, but it’s just a different mentality.

“As a reliever I go out there trying to be aggressive. As a starter I kind of worked my way into it. You’ve gotta go out there and give it your all right away. When I was starting, I didn’t have that approach.”

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In working a scoreless inning, Dellin Betances chalks up two more strikeouts.

As he gets results, Betances is gradually gaining Joe Girardi's trust. Earlier in the season the manager used him mostly in low-leverage situations, but lately he is becoming a bigger part of the late-inning mix in close games.

“He’s earned that,” Girardi said. “He was outstanding again today.”

As such the Yankees have more quality depth in their pen than anyone might have imagined when the season began. Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and now Betances, as well as closer David Robertson, are consistently delivering lockdown innings late in games, making good on the Yankees’ gamble not to sign a big-name reliever in the offseason.

With injuries to the starting rotation, and indications that CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda won’t be able to go as far into games as in the past, a deep bullpen could well be crucial to the Yankees’ hopes of playing into October.

Obviously the Yankees need to hit as well, and Mark Teixeira's power surge of late is an important sign. With his two-run home run on Saturday, he has now hit four home runs in his last five games, and now he is saying his wrist feels much better than it did at the beginning of the season.

So after three straight losses this was an important and feel-good win for the Yankees in many ways. Tanaka is practically a given at this point, tough and talented enough to make adjustments and finish strong even on a day when he admitted he had little command of his pitches.

Getting through seven innings was vital with the bullpen already overworked, and then Betances provided a bridge to Robertson, except the closer wasn’t needed when the Yankees added three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

A f terward Betances sounded like, down deep, he’s still a starting pitcher at heart, perhaps hoping for another opportunity somewhere in the future. But for now he’s thrilled to be enjoying success in the big leagues.

“I don't know what’s going to happen,” he said. “At first it was disappointing when I was put in the bullpen but I figured whatever could get me to the big leagues was good. I feel like the more time on the mound I get, the more comfortable I feel.

“Instead of being just a thrower, I’ve got a game plan when I go out there. I think that’s a big difference now too.”

No doubt part of him wonders if his success would translate to starting, if he were given the opportunity again. But for now he’s becoming too valuable piling up the strikeouts, one relief appearance at a time.

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Yankees running out of excuses for supposed ace Sabathia

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CC Sabathia towels off after an abbreviated start in another Yankee Stadium loss to the Rays.

When it comes to CC Sabathia, the Yankees are running out of answers. Out of theories. Out of positive spin.

Worst of all, however, may be the one element of which they are not even remotely running out: Time.

The big lefty registered arguably his worst start as a Yankee on Sunday, getting clobbered and booed in a 5-1 loss to the Rays at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia lasted just 3 ²/₃ innings, allowing five runs and 10 hits, and afterward, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild revealed he knew something was amiss when Sabathia threw poorly in his pregame warmup.

These 2014 Yankees, their current perch atop the American League East notwithstanding, look imperiled as long as their highly paid veterans Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda pitch as poorly as they have recently. Yet the Sabathia dilemma stretches well beyond 2014. It goes back to last year and stretches at least through 2016, if not 2017.

“Going through this adversity has been the toughest part of my baseball career by far,” the always accountable Sabathia said. “But I know I’ll come out of this a better pitcher for it.”

“This adversity” has lasted longer than many celebrity marriages. Since the start of the 2013 season, Sabathia holds a 4.94 ERA in 251 ²/₃ innings pitched. Of all major-league pitchers who have thrown 200-plus innings in the past season-plus, only two pitchers — Edinson Volquez (5.43) and Edwin Jackson (5.02) have tallied worse ERAs than the Yankees’ titular ace.

We’ve heard just about everything in this time span: Sabathia, whose velocity dropped precipitously, was recovering from his October 2012 surgery to remove a small bone spur from his left elbow. He was trying to pitch with his new weight loss. Sabathia himself admitted at the end of last season that, since he couldn’t overpower hitters like he once could, he needed to prepare more.

On Sunday, manager Joe Girardi said: “I still think he’s evolving into a different type of pitcher.”

Alas, evolution isn’t part of the Yankees’ business model, especially for a guy whom they’re paying $23 million this year and next year, followed by $25 million in 2016 and an easily attainable $25 million vesting option — essentially, he just has to stay healthy, and both he and the Yankees insist health is not an issue now — for 2017.

If this is really it for the 39-year-old Kuroda, then the Yankees can just kick him curbside this fall. If Sabathia, turning 34 in July, can’t find his desired consistency, though? It’s going to be a long, ugly path.

Sunday went down as especially ugly, with neither Sabathia’s sinker nor his changeup behaving themselves. As Sabathia noted, this one would be easier to write off if so many other starts hadn’t been subpar. And a high percentage of those starts fell into the “one bad inning” category, when Sabathia missed plenty of bats but couldn’t minimize damage when things went awry.

Shoot, Sabathia has 44 strikeouts against nine walks in 40 ²/₃ innings this season, so stat-geek common sense tells you he should level out eventually. Common sense plus knowledge of the man himself.

“It can turn at any time,” Rothschild said, even as he acknowledged Sabathia’s consistency has been absent for more than a year. “We’re all thinking that it will. I think he feels that it will. When you have someone as competitive as he is, there’s a good chance that we’ll get this straightened out.”

Nevertheless, the results and the overall numbers speak for themselves. Even going by the low standard of a quality start — at least six innings pitched and no more than three runs allowed — Sabathia hasn’t put together three consecutive such performances since last April, a span of 35 starts without a basic level of consistency.

You don’t bet heavily against Sabathia, and you appreciate him saying, of the booing that accompanied his fourth-inning departure, “I would’ve booed myself today, too.

“I know that what I’m doing is working,” he added. “I just need to get a little better at it.”

More than “a little” better, actually. Unless you think the Yankees have only “a little” riding on Sabathia rediscovering his old self — or even something just closer to that — sooner than later.

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Yankees’ Brian Roberts hits clutch homer in 9th, Hiroki Kuroda stellar in no decision

In the absence of Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, the Yankees have been waiting for somebody other than Masahiro Tanaka to step up in the starting rotation. Tuesday Kuroda was the guy

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Brian Roberts gets two hits in the game, but the big one is a solo home run in the top of the 9th to deliver the Yankees a 4-3 win Tuesday.

ANAHEIM – For nearly eight innings, Hiroki Kuroda looked like he would be the hero Tuesday night for the Yankees. By the ninth, Brian Roberts had stolen that title away.

Roberts hit a two-out solo home run in the ninth off Ernesto Frieri to snap a tie score, lifting the Yankees to a much-needed 4-3 win that helped them remain above .500.

“We’ve had some opportunities to win some games and we’ve been struggling a little bit offensively,” Joe Girardi said. “You know that you’re going to go through it in the course of the season, but it was nice to get some big hits tonight.”

Kuroda had been brilliant all night before giving up a two-out triple to Mike Trout in the eighth, setting up Albert Pujols’ game-tying single off Shawn Kelley.

But Roberts’ first home run as a Yankee came at the perfect time, allowing David Robertson to pick up his fifth save while making a winner of Kelley (1-2).

“Me and (Derek Jeter) were joking during BP today, who was going to be the last one to hit a homer,” Roberts said. “I’m glad to put the pressure on him now.”

In the absence of Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, the Yankees have been waiting for somebody other than Masahiro Tanaka to step up in the starting rotation.

Kuroda finally did so, turning in his best performance of the season as he held the Angels to three runs – only one of which was earned – on five hits over 7.2 innings, striking out eight without issuing a walk.

“Not that we were desperate for a win, but it was something that we needed, probably,” Roberts said. “When Kuroda pitched the way that he did, you need to win those games when a guy goes 7-2/3 on the road against a really, really good team. It was just nice to get a good win for us.”

After opening the season 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his first three starts, Kuroda had struggled in his past three, taking two losses while posting a 6.61 ERA.

One of those losses came April 25 against these very same Angels, who whacked the righthander around for eight runs (six earned) on 10 hits over 4.2 innings. Kuroda was slightly better last week in a loss to the Mariners, allowing four runs (three earned) over six innings.

Kuroda looked solid early, retiring six of the first seven Angels he faced. He fanned Howie Kendrick on a slider to end the first, then did the same to rookie C.J. Cron to close the second.

“It’s really encouraging,” Girardi said. “His slider was really good again. I thought his sinker was excellent again tonight. I’ve been saying that once he gets his slider going, we’ll see the Kuroda that we’re used to seeing, and he had it tonight.”

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Hiroki Kuroda regains his form on Tuesday, pitching into the eighth inning with eight strikeouts and no walks while giving up five hits and just one earned run.

C.J. Wilson also sat down six of the first seven he faced as the game remained scoreless into the third inning. The Yankees mounted a two-out rally in the third after Wilson walked Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeter singled, but Carlos Beltran grounded out to end the threat.

The Angels broke through in the bottom of the inning, getting an assist from Yangervis Solarte, whose throwing error on Collin Cowgill’s sacrifice bunt gave Los Angeles runners at second and third with nobody out.

Erick Aybar and Trout each followed with sac flies, putting a pair of unearned runs on the board for the home team.

The Yankees evened it up in the fifth on Roberts’ RBI single and a run-scoring double play by Ellsbury that brought Brett Gardner home from third base.

Kuroda retired the Angels in order in the fourth before working his way out of a jam in the fifth, striking out Trout with runners at the corners to end the inning.

“I think that was the biggest key moment of the game for me,” Kuroda said through a translator.

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Yangervis Solarte goes 2 for 4 with a run scored.

Kuroda fanned the final batter in every inning between the fourth and seventh, three of them with the splitter after struggling with the pitch all season.

The Yankees broke the tie in the eighth as Jeter was hit by a pitch and Beltran pushed a seeing-eye single up the middle to put runners in the corners. Mark Teixeira hit a sharp grounder to third, where Jeter got caught in a rundown for the first out. But Soriano came through with the big hit, a single to left field that scored Beltran from second base to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

With Kelley and Robertson getting loose in the bullpen, Girardi sent Kuroda back to the mound for the eighth as he neared the 100-pitch mark. He retired the first two batters on only three pitches, but Trout battled him in a nine-pitch at-bat before tripling off the right field wall, putting the tying run 90 feet from home.

Despite throwing 34 pitches and walking four batters Monday, Kelley came in to face Pujols as Girardi was holding Robertson for Kendrick. Kelley fell behind 3-0 before working the count full, but Pujols drilled a 3-2 slider into left field, scoring Trout to tie the game.

“When that happens, you want to try to pick guys up, that’s why you have 25 guys,” said Roberts, who did exactly that with his ninth-inning blast. “So for us to do that tonight... hopefully we can parlay this into something a little bit bigger.”

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Jeter’s solo shot the highlight of Yankees’ easy win over Angels

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Derek Jeter rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the Yankees' 9-2 blowout win over the Angels Wednesday night in Anaheim.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — There is a little bit of bark left in Derek Jeter.

On the night Jeter was honored by the Angels for a Hall of Fame career in the final lap, the Yankees’ captain coaxed a home run out of his bones.

Combined with the Angels’ treating the baseball like it was a live grenade, Jeter’s first homer of the season led the Yankees to a 9-2 victory that was witnessed by an Angel Stadium crowd of 44,083 that turned the spring evening into JeterFest filled with standing ovations and chants of “Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter.’’

The victory gave the Yankees two of three against the Angels, who committed two errors. The most costly miscue was made by right fielder Collin Cowgill who ran into Mike Trout while the center fielder was about to catch Jeter’s routine fly in the first inning. That opened the door for five Yankees runs, four of which were unearned against New Jersey product Hector Santiago.

Jeter, whose solo shot gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead, was presented with a pinstriped stand-up paddle board with the No. 2 on it before the game by the Angels. He also scored the 1,883rd career run with the homer, moving into 11th place on the all-time list.

Because 22 of Jeter’s 26 hits coming into the game were singles the home run was a bit of a surprise. The other four hits for the 39-year-old shortstop were doubles.

“It was good to get the first one,” said Jeter who went 2-for-5 and scored twice. “I am not catching Babe Ruth, but it was good to get one after Brian [Roberts] got one [Tuesday].’’

In a strange coincidence, Roberts was using the dugout bathroom when Jeter homered one night after Jeter did the same while Roberts slugged his first homer as a Yankee.

“I came up the stairs and he was looking for me and I said ‘I was in the bathroom,’ ’’ said Roberts, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Vidal Nuno, who couldn’t go further than five innings in any of his three starts, was the beneficiary of the Angels’ generosity and Jeter’s muscle. In 6¹/₃ innings the left-hander, allowed a run and four hits. That should be good enough for Nuno to stay in the rotation.

“It was the first time my family came to see me pitch live baseball,’’ said Nuno, a native Californian, who had 50 family and friends on hand.

Once again, the Bombers were glad to see the left-hander Santiago, raised in Newarkand educated in Bloomfield.

On April 26 in The Bronx, Santiago allowed four runs and six hits in 4¹/₃ innings. In five career games against the Yankees, Santiago is 1-2 with a 7.72 ERA. Wednesday night, he gave up five runs (two earned), five hits, three walks and committed a throwing error.

Santiago seemed so glad to exit the game that he was off the mound before Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia got to the hill to remove Santiago, who is 0-6.

After giving up a run in the second, Nuno (1-0) retired 13 straight hitters. It was Nuno’s second big league win and helped the Yankees reset an over-worked bullpen that will have Thursday to rest because it’s an off day before the Yankees open a three-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee Friday night.

As for Orange County baseball fans showering Jeter with love in what was likely his last game in Southern California, he was impressed.

“The fans have been awesome,” Jeter said. “All three games are something I will remember and appreciate.I have fond memories of playing in Anaheim.’’

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Nuno5-7.jpg

Vidal Nuno #57 of the New York Yankees pitches to the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 7, 2014 in Anaheim, California.

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Derek Jeter #2 and Jacoby Ellsbury #22 of the New York Yankees react to their runs off of a Mark Teixeira #25 double for a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 7, 2014 in Anaheim, California.

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Yankees will retire Joe Torre’s No. 6 on Aug. 23 against White Sox during Stadium ceremony

The incoming Hall of Famer, who won four World Series over a five-year period with the Bombers, will also have a plaque in Yankee Stadium's famed Monument Park. Goose Gossage, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez will also be honored this summer.

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With the retiring of Joe Torre’s No. 6, only one single digit remains — Derek Jeter’s No. 2 — with the Yankees.

After leading the Yankees to six World Series appearances and winning four titles as manager -- a tenure in pinstripes that included a remarkable 12 straight playoff appearances (1996-2007) -- incoming Hall of Fame inductee Joe Torre will have his No. 6 retired by the Bombers and will be honored with a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s famed Monument Park, the team announced Thursday.

Hall of Fame reliever Rich (Goose) Gossage, and two key players on Torre’s four championship teams -- outfielder Paul O’Neill and first baseman Tino Martinez -- will also receive plaques in Monument Park this summer.

“Totally awesome,” said Gossage, borrowing Jeff Spicoli’s famous line. “Oh my God, I can’t even relate. Just the company that you keep out there and how many great players played with the Yankees, and just to be a part of the Yankee organization, for those six years (1978-‘83 and part of ‘89), was unbelievable.”

Torre will be the last of the four to be honored, with a ceremony scheduled for Aug. 23, when the Yankees host the White Sox. Gossage and Martinez will be honored during the Old-Timers’ weekend (June 21-22), while O’Neill will be celebrated Aug. 9.

Gossage said the plaque honor is “right up there” with his induction into Cooperstown, and was wistful when asked what the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would have thought. “I wish so much he was around,” said Gossage.

The 62-year-old Gossage said he was told about the honor “a week ago,” when Yankee senior VP of marketing, Debbie Tymon, gave him a call.

“I said, ‘I’m glad I’m sitting down.’ To go into that elite Hall of Fame, it’s the Yankee Hall of Fame, is very, very special,” said Gossage. “My Mom and Dad, my whole family, were huge Yankee fans growing up out here in Colorado. This is just icing on the cake with a cherry on top.”

Gossage said one of his few regrets that he has is that his parents weren’t alive to see him enter the Hall of Fame and receive this honor from the Yankees.

“The only urgency I had about getting into the Hall of Fame was, my Mom said toward the end of her life, 'Gosh, if you were to go into the Hall of Fame, I hope I'm around.' I hoped I would go in while she was still around,” said Gossage. “But she missed it by a couple of years. I always felt she was up there, and my Dad didn't see me get to play professional baseball. He always told me that I would.

“But, those are the only two things that didn't work out in my career. Even the home runs I gave up were great and I had my share of those.”

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Former Yankee pitcher Goose Gossage calls his Monument Park plaque 'icing on the cake.'

The righthander said his wife, Corna, would join him for the ceremony at Yankee Stadium next month, and that possibly two of his three sons would make the trip to the Bronx. Gossage said he was also thrilled that he will be able to see some old teammates and rivals that weekend.

“It's nice that it's Old-Timers' Day, that I get to share it with so many great players that I played with and so many other guys that I admired playing against,” said Gossage. “We may not have been teammates, but I enjoyed their careers, too. To do that that weekend is a very special time. Very cool.”

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Joe Torre wins four World Series over a five-year period with the Yankees, the last coming over the Mets in 2000’s Subway Series.

The Yankees said in the press release that former center fielder Bernie Williams is part of this recognition series, and he will be honored in 2015, although the team did not announce in what capacity.

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Gardner: ‘I’m striking out too much’

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Brett Gardner heads back to the dugout after striking out to end the game against the Red Sox on April 11.

MILWAUKEE — When the Yankees open a three-game series against the Brewers Friday night at Miller Park, Brett Gardner will be hitting 14 points higher than his career average of .268.

His on-base percentage is a respectable .347; five points lower than Gardner’s career mark of .352.

Yet, the feisty left fielder knows he needs to improve when it comes to striking out.

At the start of the season, Gardner had 517 major league hits compared to 293 strikeouts. Only in 2008, Gardner’s first season in the big leagues, did he have more strikeouts (30) than hits (29).

However, Gardner has 31 hits and 31 strikeouts this season and that doesn’t sit well with him.

“I have been striking out too much,’’ said Gardner, who didn’t whiff Wednesday night against the Angels in Anaheim after fanning seven times in the previous four games. “My mechanics have been a little off, rushing the swing and swinging with my head moving. I have been swinging and missing more than I would like.’’

Of Gardner’s 31 Ks, 10 were looking. And while that sounds like a big problem, hitting coach Kevin Long doesn’t see it that way.

“If it was 10 strikeouts and they were all looking that would be a problem but the bigger part is the swings and misses,’’ Long explained. “It could be swinging at a couple of balls off the plate or not reacting to the breaking ball. The number will go down, right now it’s extremely high. He isn’t happy. If he gets back to putting the ball in play, he will get hits.’’

Gardner isn’t planning on a major overhaul at the plate.

“I have to do a better job, but I don’t want to change my game. I have to be aggressive so when I get a pitch to hit, I put the ball in play and use my speed,’’ said Gardner, whose 31 Ks were tied for 22nd among AL hitters Thursday. “I felt better [Wednesday].’’

When Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound there isn’t a trace of fear oozing from him. When he steps into the batter’s box Friday night against Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo that won’t be the case.

Asked if was excited to hit, Tanaka said, “No. I will be a little bit scared.’’

And outside of squaring to bunt, don’t expect much bat movement.

“I want to get that right,’’ Tanaka said of bunting. “I am not anticipating swinging for now.’’

Watching AL pitchers bat in interleague games is often hard on the eyes. Even CC Sabathia, the Yankees’ best-hitting starter, often looks overmatched.

Tanaka estimated he batted 10 times in Japan and realizes he is getting paid to throw the ball, not hit it although he said he homered in high school.

“My main job is to throw,’’ Tanaka said. “I will focus on that.’’

Joe Girardi has several concerns about his starters and long relievers doing something that isn’t regular in game situations.

“They haven’t been swinging for a whole year and they are being asked to bunt,’’ Girardi said. “I saw Javier Vazquez breaking his finger [bunting] and this was a guy who was a good bunter.’’

Going into Thursday’s games the Brewers’ 22-13 record was tops in the NL and the staff ERA of 3.11 was fifth in the majors.

“They are playing extremely well and pitching extremely well, not giving up a lot of runs,’’ Girardi said of the NL Central leaders who the Yankees haven’t played at Miller Park since 2005 when the Brewers won two of three.

“Playing NL teams is different, especially when you go to their ballpark and pitchers are expected to hit. A couple of our guys are excited about that. I am not sure I am excited about it.’’

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Yankees’ Carlos Beltran has bone spur on right elbow, could need surgery if cortisone shot doesn’t work

He was taking swings in the batting cage during Monday night’s loss to the Mets when he felt pain and informed Joe Girardi he would have to be removed from the game. Beltran said he’s never had an issue with his elbow before.

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Carlos Beltran is hoping a cortisone injection Monday night provides relief from elbow woes.

Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran has a bone spur in his right elbow that is causing him a “sharp pain” he said when he swings a bat. He received a cortisone injection on Monday night. If that does not provide relief within a few days, he could need surgery to have it shaved down.

“You have to give the cortisone shot a chance to work. It’s an old bone spur but it’s aggravating his elbow now,” manager Joe Girardi said at his pre-game news conference before the Yankees faced the Mets at the Stadium. “If in a couple days he doesn’t feel better, my level of concern will be pretty high.”

Beltran said he has inquired about whether a second cortisone injection would be an option in the event it continues to bother him after the next few days, but hasn’t received an answer yet.

He was taking swings in the batting cage during Monday night’s loss to the Mets when he felt pain and informed Joe Girardi he would have to be removed from the game. Beltran said he’s never had an issue with his elbow before.

“Right now we’re hoping the cortisone shot will take the pain away and I can continue to go on and continue to play,” Beltran said. “If it doesn’t get better then they might need to take it out.”

Beltran was diagnosed after having an MRI during the game and received the shot afterward. The bone spur will need to be surgically removed at some point, but the hope for the Yankees is that it won’t be necessary until after the season.

“They said that if the cortisone does the job and I feel no pain, it’s no concern at all, Beltran said. “You just hope it goes away. Maybe having the surgery, I will be disappointed if I have to have the surgery to take it out and miss time.”

Ichiro Suzuki said he would not be able to play on Tuesday because his back still is bothering him, but the Yankees will at least temporarily have a reinforcement.

Reliever Shawn Kelley was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore back and outfielder Zoilo Almonte was called up.

“It’s not getting to where it needs to get,” Girardi said of Kelley’s condition. “Now we’re looking at a seventh day, eighth day and with the health of our outfielders where they are, it was probably a good idea to call up Zoilo.”

Mark Teixeira, who is dealing with soreness in his groin, is in the lineup for Tuesday’s game as the DH.

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The thing that bothers me the most about this article is that it's true.

Yankees’ advanced roster age rearing its head

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C.C. Sabathia

It’s an age-old problem for the Yankees, one that drew an especially bright spotlight in Monday night’s 2014 Subway Series opener at Yankee Stadium.

It is, to be more precise, an old-age problem.

Even a $500 million offseason infusion couldn’t protect the Yankees against their greatest weakness, again: Their seniority still lurks around every game. By the time the Yankees’ exciting, 9-7 loss became official, and their record dropped to a modest 19-18, three of their elders surfaced with new problems.

“That’s what happens to guys who are older,” Mark Teixeira said. “You get bumps and bruises. That’s the unfortunate part about getting old.”

The 34-year-old Teixeira, the Yankees’ hottest hitter, didn’t start due to a tight left groin. He pinch hit in the ninth inning and delivered a single against Mets closer Kyle Farnsworth, jogging to first base and being replaced immediately by pinch-runner Brendan Ryan. Joe Girardi thought a healthier Teixeira could have made it to second on his line drive into the right-field corner, and therefore would have avoided being forced out on Brian McCann’s subsequent game-ending double play. Teixeira didn’t express as much confidence in that theory, though.

During the game, Carlos Beltran, 37, left with what Girardi called a hyperextended right elbow, an injury the designated hitter suffered while swinging in the cage between at-bats. He underwent an MRI late Mondaynight.

“I’m concerned because it was enough to take him out of the game,” Girardi said.

And when Girardi was asked why Ichiro Suzuki didn’t pinch run for Teixeira, the Yankees’ manager divulged the normally ultra-durable Ichiro, 40, was unavailable after injuring a knee and his back attempting an acrobatic catch Sunday in Milwaukee.

“Tonight I just couldn’t go,” Ichiro said through his interpreter. “I was trying to get warmed up inside, but I was a no-go.”

Moreover, CC Sabathia, who turns 34 in July, will visit noted orthopedist James Andrews for a second opinion on his right knee. Sabathia already is on the disabled list. We’ll see if his stay goes longer than 15 days.

Perhaps to even out the actuarial tables, reliever Shawn Kelley, 29, also was unavailable Monday due to a bad back, and his absence contributed to the Yankees’ bullpen meltdown that allowed the Mets to post a comeback victory. The losing pitcher? 37-year-old lefty specialist Matt Thornton, naturally.

The Yankees’ 39-year-olds proved relatively immune from the surrounding chaos, although neither quite discovered the Fountain of Youth, either. Captain Derek Jeter knocked three soft singles and drew a walk, and starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda at least kept the Yankees in the game with six innings of four-run ball.

In the wake of last year’s disastrous results, the Yankees worked diligently and spent generously over the winter to add some fresh blood. Their most expensive addition, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, has exceeded their wildest dreams, putting up a 2.57 ERA and recording zero losses in his seven starts.

Wednesday’s Subway Series pitting Tanaka against the Mets’ debuting Rafael Montero will give this interleague, intra-city matchup the most juice we’ve experienced in quite a few years.

It’s fitting, if not fully causative, Tanaka, 25, arrived as the youngest of the Yankees’ four newcomers, well behind Beltran and 30-year-olds Jacoby Ellsbury and McCann. Of that position-playing trio, only Ellsbury has performed at an acceptable level to date, presenting the Yankees with an unpalatable scenario to envision: At least Sabathia and Teixeira reaped dividends in the early years of their megadeals, and even A.J. Burnett contributed some. What if this latest big buy doesn’t pay off immediately and then bites the Yankees late as has been the case with their previous investments?

If the Yankees are to climb out of their current morass this season, they’ll have to lean most heavily on the guys still in their primes. On Ellsbury and McCann, and on the currently injured Michael Pineda, who provided so much hope with his early starts before revealing himself to be both remarkably stupid and unsurprisingly fragile within about a week’s time.

It’s not reasonable or realistic to expect Jeter to approach the heights of even recent years, not after his traumatic left ankle injury of 2012. Same goes for Teixeira, who likely can’t sustain his hot streak, and Sabathia. Maybe Beltran will fall in this group, too.

You can’t outrun old age. You can only hope to minimize its importance. And the Yankees haven’t accomplished that mission yet.

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Yankees’ Chase Whitley finds ‘relief’ after solid MLB debut

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Though he did not pick up the win, starter Chase Whitley did not allow a run in his major league debut in the Yankees' 1-0 win over the Mets Thursday night at Citi Field.

Chase Whitley sat in the dugout after the fifth inning Thursday night, having not surrendered a run, before Dellin Betances got the final out. Finally, Whitley started to relax.

When asked what he felt, the right-hander said: “Relief.”

No doubt Joe Girardi felt the same thing after the Yankees 1-0 win over the Mets at Citi Field to get a split of the Subway Series.

“His performance was spectacular,” the manager said of Whitley’s 4 ²/₃ scoreless innings in his major-league debut.

The converted reliever was summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take the spot of CC Sabathia, who joined the growing list of starters on the disabled list.

Girardi said Whitley would remain among the starters, at least for now.

“We haven’t made a change in our rotation,” Girardi said. “He didn’t do anything not to start.”

Whitley said he was just pleased to get it over with.

“To put that one away and look forward to the next one — whenever that might be — it was a good day,” Whitley said.

He began to run out of steam in the fifth, as he issued his first two walks with one out in the inning to Ruben Tejada and Juan Centeno. After Mets starter Jacob deGrom bunted them over, Girardi decided to remove Whitley before facing the lineup a third time.

“We felt he tired,” Girardi said.

Whitley, who threw 74 pitches, agreed.

“The adrenaline wore off a little bit,” said Whitley, who also singled in his first at-bat. “It’s something I’ve got to build on for next time.”

Still, for a team that has seen its starting rotation go from deep to paper-thin in a matter of weeks, Whitley provided as much as they could have asked for.

With the way Sabathia struggled even before going to the disabled list with a bad right knee, the Yankees may have even signed up for Whitley’s outing even if the big lefty were on the mound.

So while Whitley — like David Phelps and Vidal Nuno — can’t replicate the performances expected from the injured Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, the Yankees may be able to survive for a while if they get more innings like they did Thursday from Whitley.

And as his former SWB teammates said before he was called up, Whitley wasn’t overwhelmed by the scene.

“He didn’t show any nerves at all,” Brian McCann said. “He executed all his pitches.”

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A failed starter, Dellin Betances a beast in bullpen

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Dellin Betances has six straight strikeouts in the sixth and seventh innings of the Yankees' 1-0 win over the Mets Thursday night at Citi Field.

The Yankees have found a weapon. And Big Dellin Betances has found a home in the bullpen.

Switching Betances from starter to bullpen has turned out to be a brilliant move by the Yankees.

As a starter, Betances had a problem a lot of young pitchers have — he was thinking too much. Way too much.

“He was overanxious, it almost became an anxiety thing for him as a starter,’’ one Yankees official said of Betances’ struggles.

“I was putting too much pressure on myself,’’ said Betances, who is not struggling anymore.

The local kid who starred at Brooklyn’s Grand Street Campus is not anxious anymore.

The Yankees’ thrilling 1-0 win over the Mets on Thursday night at Citi Field was proof of that as Betances (2-0) got the win.

Now opposing hitters are anxious having to face the big man, and Thursday night Betances, 26, destroyed the Mets on a night the Yankees were desperate for pitching help. He retired all seven batters he faced, striking out the last six, a career high.

“At first I was bummed,’’ Betances said of move to the bullpen last season at Triple-A. “The bullpen feels good now, all I want to do is wear the pinstripes and the grays on the road. I’m cool with that. I love being here in New York. This is my hometown.”

And his home is in the bullpen, where his comfort level is obvious.

“This game is more mental than physical,’’ Betances added. “If you can put them both together you can do some good things. I always try to inspire myself, look at inspirational quotes and keep the faith. Out of the bullpen, I can be aggressive and just follow the catcher’s game.’’

Manager Joe Girardi has growing faith in Betances and called on him with two on and two outs in the fifth inning of a 0-0 game.

“He’s continued to grow in front of us, and today, he did it without throwing a lot of pitches,’’ Girardi said. “Just a ton of strikes. I think his confidence is just going higher and higher every time he takes the mound.’’

The Mets put runners on second and third following two walks — you were expecting hits? — by emergency starter Chase Whitley and a sacrifice bunt by Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom.

Betances got Eric Young Jr. to ground to third base to end the threat.

Betances really went to work in the sixth and seventh innings with six straight strikeouts. That is two more strikeouts than he has ever had in a major league game.

Betances cut like a knife through the Subway Series cake the Mets presented Derek Jeter before the game. He struck out Daniel Murphy swinging, David Wright looking and then caught Curtis Granderson looking to end the sixth.

In the seventh, Chris Young went down swinging, Lucas Duda looking and then Betances dropped a perfect curve to freeze Ruben Tejada.

The Mets offense had nowhere to go against the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Betances.

After scoring 21 runs the first two games of the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium, the Mets were shut out in back-to-back games at Citi Field. In the two games, they produced seven hits and struck out 22 times, 14 times Thursday night.

He owns 39 strikeouts over 22¹/₃ innings. Only starters Masahiro Tanaka (66) and CC Sabathia (48) have more strikeouts on the staff. Betances’ ERA is 1.61.

This Killer B is finally killing it.

The 2006 eighth-round draft pick could close one day. But one thing is certain: This is just the start for Betances.

“You can always get better,’’ said Betances, who grew up a fan of the Subway Series. “To me it’s all about confidence.’’

“He’s got a gift,’’ Girardi said. “He’s got a very good fastball and a very good curveball. He’s not a comfortable at-bat. Where it ends up, none of us know, but he’s got good stuff.’’

Dellin Betances has become one bullpen beast.

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Yankees' bullpen shutting hitters down late in games

Opposing teams aren’t just having trouble breaking through against closer David Robertson, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and Shawn Kelley, they’re struggling just to put the ball in play. Those four pitchers have combined to average 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings and allow less than one man to reach base per inning.

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David Robertson has 12 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings as he seems to be adjusting smoothly into his new closer role.

You can't touch this.

When it comes to the quartet of Yankee relievers that manager Joe Girardi entrusts with a lead, the old MC Hammer lyrics are very appropriate. Opposing teams aren’t just having trouble breaking through against closer David Robertson, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and Shawn Kelley, they’re struggling just to put the ball in play. Those four pitchers have combined to average 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings and allow less than one man to reach base per inning.

It may be the biggest reason the Bombers are 18-2 when leading after six innings and 17-1 when leading after seven.

“(Strikeouts are) extremely important because there are times when you’re going to need those strikeouts to keep them from scoring,” Girardi said. “We have some power at the back end.”

“There are definitely certain situations you have to pitch for the strikeout, but a lot of us, with nobody on, we’re just trying to get ahead and get weak contact,” said Warren, who has whiffed 22 batters in 23.1 innings. “Our bullpen has really good stuff, so we have to just stay confident, keep pounding the zone and stay aggressive.”

On Thursday against the Mets, Betances was the embodiment of what Girardi is talking about: he retired all seven men he faced, the last six via strikeouts, and got the Yankees from the fifth to the end of the seventh.

The Mets strike out more than most National League teams. The Pirates, who will play the Bombers three times in the next two days at Yankee Stadium because of Friday’s rainout — are among the better clubs in the NL at putting the ball in play.

“It’s tough. It’s hard to explain your mentality when you get out there, but you just know that you have to make the best pitches every time,” said Robertson, who has 12 strikeouts in 10.1 innings this season.

Robertson marveled on Thursday at Betances, who now has 39 strikeouts in 22.1 innings for a stunning average of 15.7 per nine. And that’s saying something from Robertson, whose career mark is an impressive 11.7.

“With Dellin’s stuff, just throwing a fastball and a curveball is all he really needs. It’s that good,” he said. “For me, it was a little more difficult — I was always in a 3-and-2 count, fouling them off or walking guys and leaving runners everywhere.”

Kelley had 16 strikeouts in 15.1 innings when he was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained lumbar spine.

That injury moved Warren into the role of pitching the eighth inning in front of Robertson, and Betances into the role of getting batters out in the seventh or earlier, as he did in the Yanks’ 1-0 win Thursday (he actually relieved Chase Whitley with two out in the fifth).

“The one nice thing for us is a lot of times we had three guys for two (set-up) spots — Kelley, Warren and (current starter David) Phelps for a while,” Girardi said. “Then Betances emerged, and it was still three guys for the two spots.”

Now he’s just down to two, but opposing hitters are still going down swinging.

UNDER THE LIGHTS: ESPN announced that the Sunday, Aug. 3 meeting between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park will be slotted into the 8 p.m. spot as its national broadcast. The Bombers begin a four-game series at home against the Tigers the next day. The Yanks or Red Sox appear in three of the next six Sunday night telecasts.

ALL ABOUT THE 2: In the six weeks since Opening Day, more Derek Jeter jerseys have been sold than any other, according to MLB.

PINEDA UPDATE: Starter Michael Pineda, expected to be out until June with a strained muscle in his upper back, threw a 20-pitch bullpen session at the Stadium. General manager Brian Cashman said in a text message that Pineda experienced no discomfort.

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David Phelps #41 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 17, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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David Phelps #41 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth inning on May 17, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees tags out Gaby Sanchez #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fourth inning on May 17, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.The New York Yankees defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1.

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Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees hits a single in the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 17, 2014 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Yankees beat Cardinals again, salvage swing through Midwest behind Hiroki Kuroda

The Yankees’ offense had been quite offensive for the most part during the road trip, posting a collective .206/.284/.268 slash line in the first eight games. They scored only 3.6 runs per game, though they had found a way to go 4-4 during the stretch.

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Hiroki Kuroda salvages the Yankees road trip with a workmanlike performance in a 7-4 win over the Cardinals Wednesday.

ST. LOUIS — When Masahiro Tanaka lost his first game in nearly two years to start the Yankees’ nine-game road trip, it looked like Joe Girardi’s club was in for a long week in the Midwest.

Wednesday night, the Bombers headed home with a winning record on the trip, taking a 7-4 victory from a Cardinals team that had won nine of 11 before the Yankees hit town.

“We battled,” Derek Jeter said. “We’ve faced some tough pitchers and some good teams. We’ve played some long games, and I think everyone here is proud of how we played. We grinded some games out, especially here in St. Louis.”

The Yankees scored all seven runs in the third and fourth innings against Shelby Miller, then held off a steady Cardinals comeback as St. Louis scored in four of its final six innings.

Hiroki Kuroda (4-3) allowed three runs on nine hits, striking out three. Dellin Betances recorded one big out to foil a Cardinals rally, while David Robertson got the final four outs in a non-save situation, striking out the side in the ninth after putting the first two runners on base.

“Our bullpen was pushed a little bit tonight but they all did an excellent job,” Girardi said. “Big outs and a big series win for us, and we get to go into an off day with a winning series.”

The Yankees went 5-4 on the trip after splitting two games with the Cubs and four with the White Sox. They head home for an off-day Thursday before hosting the Twins on Friday to start a seven-game home stand.

“It’s big when you’re not playing your best baseball, to salvage games like we did on this trip,” said Brian McCann, who made his first career start at first base. “We won games where we fought back. There were a lot of good things that happened on this road trip.

The Yankees’ offense had posted a .206/.284/.268 slash line with only three homers in the first eight games of the trip. Despite scoring only 3.6 runs per game, they had managed to go 4-4 thanks to solid starting pitching and several superb efforts by the bullpen.

St. Louis actually out-hit the Yankees on Wednesday, 13-12, but the Bombers put their hits — 11 singles — together in timely fashion.

The first two innings looked like much of the same for the punchless Bombers, but they broke out in the third with a big one-out rally against Miller.

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Brett Gardner (r.) gets some love from manager Joe Girardi after scoring a run.

Brett Gardner drew a one-out walk, then Brian Roberts and Jacoby Ellsbury singled, bringing Gardner home for a 1-0 lead. Ellsbury stole second — he was 3-for-3 in the series against Yadier Molina, who has thrown out 13 of 23 baserunners against everybody else — and McCann walked, loading the bases.

John Ryan Murphy hit a two-run single to push the lead to three runs, then Ichiro Suzuki’s fielder’s choice scored McCann to cap the four-run frame.

The Yankees went back at it in the fourth, scoring three times against Miller on a two-run single by Ellsbury and an RBI hit by McCann. Miller (6-4) was charged with seven runs over five innings.

“To be able to have two innings in a row there where we put up a crooked number is always good,” Murphy said. “Hiro got on a roll there, started rolling a little bit.”

Kuroda took the mound in the fourth with a 7-0 lead, but the Cardinals scored in each of the next three innings as they inched their way back.

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Jacoby Ellsbury of the New York Yankees hits an RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Busch Stadium on May 28, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.

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John Ryan Murphy of the New York Yankees hits a two RBI single against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning at Busch Stadium on May 28, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Teixeira day-to-day with sore wrist

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Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is experiencing "stiffness" in his surgically repaired right wrist.

With the possibility Mark Teixeira’s surgically repaired right wrist is going to need rest throughout the season and no experienced back up first baseman on the roster, Hal Steinbrenner was asked if the Yankees were interested in signing free agent DH/first baseman Kendry Morales.

“We never say never, we always look at all possibilities,’’ Steinbrenner told The Post Thursday. “Right now we are doing it from within and I think Tex is going to be okay, but anything is possible.’’

Teixeira, who hasn’t played since Sunday, was examined Thursday by Dr. Keith Raskin, who performed surgery on the wrist last year. The first baseman was told the reason the hinge was sore because of inflammation, not structural damage.

“Not surprised, we thought it was inflammation and he is day-to-day,’’ general manager Brian Cashman said.

Manager said Joe Girardi started Kelly Johnson and Brian McCann in the three games at first against the Cardinals and has used Brendan Ryan late in games.

The switch-hitting Morales turned down a $14.3 million qualifying offer from the Mariners to test the free agent waters after hitting .277 with 23 homers, 80 RBIs and an OPS of .785.

Any team signing Morales before the draft ends June 7 will lose a draft pick. If Morales, 31 next month, is signed after the draft his new club won’t lose a pick.

“As you would expect the need for switch-hitters is there,’’ said Scott Boras, Morales’ agent. “And he can play first base.’’

While Cashman had a clear view of what to expect from Teixeira’s ultrasound treatment, he remains in the dark about the bone spur in Carlos Beltran’s right elbow.

“It’s not fair to expect anything either way,’’ Cashman said about the switch-hitting outfielder who hasn’t played since May 12.

Beltran graduated from dry swings to a 25-pitch tee and toss activity Thursday at Yankee Stadium with hitting coach Kevin Long watching.

“He will recover or he won’t but Kevin said [beltran] was full bore and he was excited,” Cashman said.

The plan is for Beltran to repeat the exercise Friday if the elbow allows it.

“Hopefully, he graduates to cage work and play in rehab games,’’ Cashman said.

If the cortisone medication Beltran is using doesn’t work he likely will face surgery that could sideline him for 10 weeks.

Lowering your time from home to first by .20 seconds isn’t much but when you are 39 and missed most of last season with lower leg issues that included a surgically repaired left ankle, it’s an indicator the legs are getting stronger.

Earlier this season, scouts were clocking Derek Jeter at 4.52 seconds from home to first. Tuesday in St. Louis a scout timed him at 4.32. The major league average is 4.3.

After Girardi didn’t start Jeter Wednesday night against the Cardinals, expect him back in the lineup Friday night when the Yankees open a three-game series against the Twins at Yankee Stadium. It will be the first of 17 straight days of games for the Yankees.

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Pitch-perfect: Betances’ ‘slurve’ taking majors by storm

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Dellin Betances

It is the unidentifiable flying object that’s impacting baseball like nothing quite else.

“It’s a curveball,” said Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who has seen more of it up close than anyone else.

“It’s a slider,” said Cardinals center fielder Peter Bourjos, who swung at three of them and missed all of them this past Monday.

“I call it a cutter,” said Reds minor-league pitcher Mikey O’Brien, who helped create it, “but that’s just for my mind-set.”

MLB.com, in its “Game Day” feature that utilizes data from PITCHf/x, calls it a knuckle-curve.

“It’s a slurve,” Dellin Betances said, before rendering the discussion moot: “I just throw it, you know?”

If you have seen Betances pitch out of the Yankees’ bullpen this season, you know the pitch we’re discussing: The crazy, nasty breaking pitch that has elevated him into a trusted, valuable part of manager Joe Girardi’s bullpen.

That has him leading all major-league relievers in strikeouts with 51, and has made him the first rookie relief pitcher in the game’s history to strike out at least 50 batters through his team’s first 50 games of the season (thanks, Elias Sports Bureau).

It’s the pitch that just might have saved Betances’ career, and in turn just might save the 2014 Yankees’ season.

“This is a dream come true,” Betances said Wednesday. “I always wanted to be here. I always wanted to come and help the team in any way possible.”

An eighth-round selection in the Yankees’ amateur draft out of Brooklyn’s Grand Street Campus High School, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Betances slowly worked his way up the Yankees’ farm system but hit a wall when he arrived with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2012. He recorded a 6.39 ERA in 16 starts and walked 69 in 74²/₃ innings, and the Yankees sent him back down to Double-A Trenton, where he wasn’t much better (6.51 ERA and 30 walks in 56 2/3 innings).

The problems, Betances said, stemmed from his inability to throw a breaking ball for strikes. “I had problems with my hand,” he said. Specifically, his right index finger developed blisters, and the nail got black and blue.

So he turned to O’Brien, a teammate at Double-A Trenton and asked him for advice. O’Brien told him to tilt his right wrist a few degrees. That alleviated the pressure on his finger and produced the spectacular break we’re now seeing. The Yankees then made him a reliever in 2013.

“The key is being able to throw it for a strike,” O’Brien, whom the Reds took from the Yankees in the Triple-A portion of last winter’s Rule 5 draft, said in a telephone interview. “For him, he has that power fastball. If he throws [the pitch] on the same plane as the fastball, they’re just gearing up for that fastball.”

“The thing that makes it different is he throws 98, 99 [miles per hour],” Bourjos said. “So I think it’s similar to a lot of pitches. It’s just that guys that have that pitch are throwing 91. So he’s throwing 98. So it makes it tough, especially with the difference in velocities — it’s 81 and he tops at 98. It’s a big gap.”

The website FanGraphs, which categorizes Betances’ pitch as a slider, calculates the average velocity of the pitch as 82.4 mph and his fastball at 95.6. FanGraphs assesses the “slider” as the third-best such pitch in baseball with a value of 6.7 runs above average, behind only Milwaukee’s Kyle Lohse (9.2) and Miami’s injured ace Jose Fernandez (six.eight)— remarkable because Betances has thrown far fewer innings (30²/₃ ) than most starting pitchers.

Betances said, “In high school, I was throwing a similar pitch,” and Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer recalls seeing that from the Washington Heights native.

A scout from another team who has seen Betances from his amateur days through the present considers the “magic pitch” theory to be a stretch.

“He’s able to repeat his arm action now,” the scout said, on the condition of anonymity. “He’s a big kid. He had to grow into his body.”

At the least, however, the evolution of this special pitch has played an integral role in Betances’ development and confidence.

“It has the tightness and depth of a curveball,” Oppenheimer said. “People just aren’t used to a curveball being thrown in the 80s.”

“How about we just call it a breaking ball?” Girardi suggested.

“We should come up with a name for it,” said John Ryan Murphy, the Yankees’ catcher who has worked with Betances since their time together in the minors.

Any suggestions? Until we come up with a winner, Betances will just throw it, and the rest of the Yankees will just appreciate it.

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David Robertson of the New York Yankees pitches in the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins during their game at Yankee Stadium on May 31, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Yangervis Solarte of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the fourth inning against the Minnesota Twins during their game at Yankee Stadium on May 31, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees pitches against the Minnesota Twins in the seventh inning during their game at Yankee Stadium on May 31, 2014 in the Bronx borough of New York City.

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Who is going to come back and be on the active roster first? Limp-wristed SOB Mark Teixeira or "I'll-never-play-a-full-season-again" Michael Pineda?

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Masahiro Tanaka gives Yankees most impressive outing by grinding through A's lineup

Tanaka allowed five hits and one walk, striking out four. But it was the way he battled Oakland’s deep lineup that stood out as the league’s highest-scoring team challenged him repeatedly.

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Masahiro Tanaka leaves the mound after the sixth inning after battling a tough Oakland lineup throughout the afternoon.

A look at Masahiro Tanaka’s line against Oakland on Thursday would suggest he struggled to some extent, the righty failing to pitch into the seventh inning for only the second time in his 12 big-league starts.

He didn’t blank the Athletics the way he did the Cubs and Mets, nor did he reach double digits in strikeouts like he did against the Orioles, Cubs and Angels.

Tanaka’s six-inning, one-run outing actually looked rather pedestrian in comparison to some of the gaudy lines he has put up during his first two months in the majors.

Forget the numbers. Thursday’s win was the most impressive — and important — of Tanaka’s brief Yankees career.

“I think you could say it’s maybe his biggest performance for us,” said Joe Girardi, who was finally able to smile during a postgame press conference after seeing his club snap its four-game skid.

Tanaka allowed five hits and one walk, striking out four. But it was the way he battled Oakland’s deep lineup that stood out as the league’s highest-scoring team challenged him repeatedly.

Tanaka faced 24 batters in his six innings, needing six or more pitches against nine of them. Oakland made him throw 26 pitches in both the fourth and fifth, driving his pitch count up and making him work as hard as he’s had to since he put on pinstripes.

“The fourth and fifth inning is the only reason he didn’t throw a complete game,” Brian McCann said. “They made him throw a lot of pitches, but stuff-wise, he was on point. It’s no different from how he’s been all year.”

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Masahiro Tanaka holds the A's to just one-run to help the Yankees snap losing streak.

John Jaso drilled Tanaka’s seventh pitch of the game into the second deck in right field, putting the Yankees in a quick 1-0 hole.

Tanaka didn’t flinch. He retired the next 10 batters, allowing the Yankees to tie the game in the second and take a lead in the third.

It looked like Tanaka was on his way to another gem, further cementing his status as staff ace and front-runner to start the All-Star Game for the American League. But the Athletics weren’t going down without a fight the way most of Tanaka’s other victims have.

“Especially after giving up a homer to the second hitter of the game, being able to shut them down, I thought it was a gritty performance on his part,” Girardi said.

“They’re tough outs and they make you work.”

Tanaka didn’t seem to buy into the idea that Thursday ‘s outing was his best of the season, and while he would probably point to his four-hit shutout at Citi Field three weeks ago, the Mets lineup doesn’t come close to the one Oakland sent to the plate.

Tanaka’s win over the Mets did have one important thing in common with Thursday’s victory: both snapped four-game losing streaks, pushing the Yankees back over .500 each time.

“I don’t think it was my best performance for the season,” Tanaka said through his translator. “But given the fact that our team was in a little bit of a slump or funk and we were facing one of the best teams in the league right now, I was really happy that I was able to contribute to the team’s win.”

In his first 11 starts, Tanaka held opponents to a .121 batting average, a .171 on-base percentage and a .152 slugging percentage with two strikes, typically using his trademark splitter to put them away.

Oakland’s two hits in the fourth inning both came on two-strike counts, and even though Tanaka fanned Jed Lowrie to escape the jam, he needed nine pitches to do so after the shortstop fouled off four straight 2-2 offerings.

“It was a tough game for me today,” Tanaka said. “I think the Athletics were really resilient and didn’t give in.”

Stephen Vogt started the fifth with a 10-pitch at-bat, fouling off four two-strike pitches before reaching on a single.

Coco Crisp drew a two-out walk on a full count later in the inning, the ninth time Tanaka was forced to throw six pitches to a hitter in his first five innings.

“He found a way to get out of those innings; they put some really long, tough at-bats,” Girardi said. “He never let up and kept going at them, going at them. He ended up getting the big outs he needed to get.”

He’s been doing it all season. Where would the Yankees be without him?

“That’s what a true ace is; a true ace stops losing streaks,” Mark Teixeira said. “There’s not another guy we want out there after losing a few in a row than Tanaka.”

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I don't want to think about how bad this team would be without Tanaka.

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Chase Whitley goes seven innings, Brian McCann knocks in three runs as Yankees top Royals

The victory was the first of Whitley's brief career and he also set a career high in innings pitched in a game. It's a testament to how solid he's been in his five starts that his ERA rose a smidge - from 2.37 to 2.42 Friday.

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Chase Whitley tosses a career-high seven innings while allowing just two runs and five hits.

KANSAS CITY – On his way off the mound after the seventh inning Friday night, Chase Whitley allowed himself a small celebration. It wasn’t much — he just tapped his pitching hand into his glove after striking out Salvador Perez to end the inning – and he certainly could’ve relished the moment much more considering how well he pitched.

Whitley, the surprise contributor who keeps giving the Yankees chances to win when he starts, was terrific in a 4-2 victory over the Royals in front of 23,418 at Kauffman Stadium. He allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to earn his first big-league win.

Not bad for a guy whose bio is found all the way back on page 478 of the club’s media guide. And who said he “didn’t throw a strike” during his pregame bullpen warmup.

“I was all over the place,” Whitley said. “It was crazy.”

Brian McCann had the key hit, a three-run double in the third inning that snapped a 1-1 tie, helping the Yanks to their second straight victory, starting their 10-game road trip right.

Whitley said he got several baseballs from the win and planned to give at least one to his parents. He was going to keep one for himself, too.

Why not? He earned souvenirs, especially since he set a career-high for innings pitched – by two. Whitley said he considered it a milestone. “Definitely, definitely,” he said. “Getting that first out in the sixth inning was key, to say finally I got past that five.”

The Yanks closely watched his pitch counts in his previous four starts because he has not been a starter his whole career. But he was so economical Friday he was through six innings on only 72 pitches and then only threw 15 more in a 1-2-3 seventh.

Whitley struck out three, walked none and threw 51 of 87 pitches for strikes. He credited his improving slider with giving him another option to get outs.

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Brian McCann lines a bases-loaded double down the left-field line, clearing the bases to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

“I’ve felt good about him ever since I saw him pitch the first game, that he was going to keep us in the game, just because he throws strikes, he locates, he doesn’t beat himself,” Joe Girardi said. “He does a lot of things right.

“It’s neat to see a kid get his first win, when he probably could have had a couple already.”

The Yankees are now 18-8 in games started by rookies – 4-1 in Whitley’s starts – and their starting pitching overall has been helping to keep them afloat with their offense mostly sputtering.

Since May 14, Yankee starters have a 2.91 ERA and they entered Friday with the lowest ERA in the majors over that span.

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Brian Roberts (l.), Mark Teixeira (c.) and Brett Gardner (r.) all celebrate as they score on McCann's double and the Yankees win their second straight.

Dellin Betances and David Robertson each threw a scoreless inning of relief. Robertson notched his 14th save, but let the tying runs reach base after striking out the first two hitters he faced.

McCann has had problems hitting the ball into the teeth of the right-side shifts defenses play against him, but this time he rapped a liner the opposite way, toward the left-field line, with the bases loaded.

All three runners scored, giving McCann 27 RBI, tied for tops on the Yanks with Mark Teixeira.

“That’s a huge hit,” Girardi said. “It’s a tough at-bat, he fouls off a lot of tough pitches – he fouls off a changeup, a curveball, a real slow curveball, then he got a ball up in the zone, and it’s a big double.”

But the night – and the souvenirs and celebrating – really belonged to Whitley.

“He’s been impressive,” Girardi said.

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I don't want to think about how bad this team would be without Tanaka.

Still not as bad as the Red Sox. :help:

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Still not as bad as the Red Sox. :help:

Hello! It's nice to see you around here again. Please don't be a stranger. :)

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Joe Girardi says he won't shake up struggling Yankees lineup

The Yankees, who these days seem a nightly threat to waste more good pitching, were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position in Sunday’s 2-1 loss and they’ve scored just 25 runs in their recent stretch of losing seven of 10 games.

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Joe Girardi plans to keep his patience with the current lineup despite its recent struggles.

KANSAS CITY — The Yankees didn’t hit again Monday, but it wasn’t another frustrating night at the ballpark — the finale of their series against the Royals was rained out.

While the unplanned off-day might give Joe Girardi time to consider drastic alterations to his struggling lineup, it seems unlikely much will change when the Yanks start a series in Seattle Tuesday. The manager describes himself as “patient” when it comes to lineup shakeups.

“The one thing you can’t do is, you can’t just start changing everything,” Girardi said. “You look at what guys have done in the past, you look at what guys have done this year and you try to put what you feel is the best lineup together every day. It’s been two months. We’ve struggled the last three or four weeks scoring runs. Obviously, we know we need to score more, but guys are going through a tough time and sometimes you’ve just got to ride it out.”

The Yankees, who these days seem a nightly threat to waste more good pitching, were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position in Sunday’s 2-1 loss and they’ve scored just 25 runs in their recent stretch of losing seven of 10 games. They are 21st in the majors in runs scored (249), 18th in slugging (.382), 20th in OPS (.697) and 26th in extra-base hits (161).

With runners in scoring position, the numbers are worse. They are 26th in both OPS (.662) and slugging (.344) in such situations. The big-league average in those categories is .709 OPS and .382 slugging. “It seems like when guys are scuffling, sometimes they scuffle in bunches,” Derek Jeter said. “Right now, we’re going through tough times, and I know we’re much better than this,” Girardi added.

You’d think a club with the nickname Bronx Bombers would be more powerful, too. The Yankees are 20th in homers and are on pace to hit 132 home runs, 12 fewer than last year’s team. Girardi, known more for his catching than his hitting during his career, says he knows “what it’s like to struggle as a hitter. I know when I would watch games or broadcast games, I would say, ‘Man, that looks easy to hit’ because it’s slow and it’s on TV and it looks big. And then you get to the plate and it’s not easy. I understand it. I don’t ever want to forget how hard it is to play this game.”

And, Girardi says, he considers players reactions to potential lineup changes “because their mind is a part of this, too, not (just) the physical skills.”

Jeter is among the struggling Yankees. Since his four-hit game in Chicago last month, he’s just 8-for-46 (.174), which has knocked his average down to .254. “He’s just like everyone else — he’s going through the ups and downs,” Girardi said.

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Sure they may be going through a tough time now but these son of a ______'s are overrated.

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New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, left, makes the catch in time to force Seattle Mariners' Brad Miller (5) at first base in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Seattle.

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New York Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki reacts to an inside pitch in the second inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Seattle. Suzuki later lined out to left field in the at-bat.

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SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 10: Starting pitcher Vidal Nuno of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on June 10, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

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New York Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury hits a go-ahead single that scored Yankees' Derek Jeter in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Seattle.

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New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira hits a three-run home run against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Seattle.

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New York Yankees' Derek Jeter, left, singles in the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Seattle.

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