Game 19: Yankees (10-8) at Rays (9-9)

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Today's game may seem secondary to the bad news about Ivan Nova's elbow injury, but the Yankees still need to play it, and win it, if they want to head into the series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway with any kind of momentum. They're pinning their hopes on a decent outing by Vidal Nuno today, who can make an argument for himself as Nova's replacement if he pitches well against the Rays in this Easter Sunday 1:40 p.m. start.

Here's the Yankees lineup for today. Note the unfamiliar first baseman/No. 5 hitter:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
John Ryan Murphy C

Vidal Nuno LHP

NOTES: Yes, Teixeira is back, as expected, after a 15-day stay on the DL with a hamstring strain. Asked how the leg felt this morning Teixeira said, "I'll just be doing my normal thing. You know, stealing bases and hitting triples" ... Derek Jeter returns to the lineup after a one-day rest, and Carlos Beltran, apparently fully recovered from his rather rude meeting with a side wall Thursday night, is well enough to return to right field after a DH day yesterday ... Lots of player moves today, and more to come tomorrow. For now, the Yankees optioned Scott Sizemore, who had played well since being recalled on April 9, back to AAA Scranton, and DFA-ed RHP Matt Daley, who was raked for six runs in 1-1/3 innings in last night's 16-1 disaster. In addition to reactivating Teixeira, the Yankees added RHP Preston Claiborne from Scranton and RHP Bryan Mitchell from AA Trenton. Both are here and available if needed.

Ivan Nova has elbow ligament tear

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The New York Yankees' worst fears about starting pitcher Ivan Nova were partially confirmed Sunday when an MRI revealed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

Nova will return to New York for further evaluation by a team doctor, but as manager Joe Girardi acknowledged, "Usually when you have that, it eventually leads to [Tommy John surgery]."

Nova left in the fifth inning of Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays after feeling pain in his elbow after delivering a pitch to Evan Longoria. Nova was noticed wincing and shaking his arm by Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, who alerted Girardi.

Nova was sent to a Tampa hospital for the MRI Saturday night and placed on the 15-day disabled list, pending further diagnosis, on Sunday morning. If it is determined Nova needs Tommy John surgery, it customarily means a 12- to 18-month recovery period.

"It was just kind of a little pop, like when you feel a friction or something," Nova said of the 1-0 curveball to Longoria. "Honestly, I didn't think that I was hurt. When you're out there in the game, you just want to pitch."

"... It's hard," Nova added. "I really don't know what to say. I'm sad right now."

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Dealin' Dean Anna mops up

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Dean Anna is a shortstop by trade and a ball player by nature, but he hadn't thrown a pitch, he figured, since he was an 11-year-old Little Leaguer back in Harvey, Ill.

So when New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi told him Saturday night that he was his eighth-inning guy, Anna wasn't quite sure what to think. Or to feel.

[+] EnlargeDean Anna
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsDean Anna was forced to pitch Saturday night, which is not exactly how Joe Girardi drew it up.
Anna knew it wasn't an opportunity, or an honor, since the Yankees were in the midst of being crushed 16-1 by the Tampa Bay Rays -- although the score was a mere 14-1 when Anna got the call.

And when he left the mound, after a relatively quick, but not uneventful, inning, here was his self-assessment: "I thought I did all right. I thought I was going to hold them to the last two, but then a guy got a base hit. I don't really remember it anymore."

By the numbers, Anna struck out as many batters as Dellin Betances (zero), allowed one-quarter of the runs allowed (two) by starter Ivan Nova, got one swing-and-miss (on a 60 mph pitch to James Loney) and extended the misery of David DeJesus, who came to the plate zero for his past 22 and left 0-for-23 after popping out to the infield.

"Oh, nice," Anna said. "I guess I did my job."

But Anna knew the truth: "When you see me in there, it's not a good day for us."

This was a miserable day for the Yankees. Nova allowed eight runs, including four home runs, and left in the fifth inning with an elbow injury, the severity of which has yet to be determined. He was followed by Matt Daley, called up earlier in the day, then allowed six runs (although only four were earned), including a long home run to Wil Myers.

Betances wasn't charged with any runs but had a recurrence of the control problems that periodically plague him, issuing a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Hanigan. When Betances finally ended the seventh inning by striking out DeJesus, Girardi decided to save the remainder of his bullpen for Sunday's series finale, which will be started by emergency starter Vidal Nuno.

That's when Girardi approached Anna and told him he would be the first Yankees position player to take the mound since last May 15, when Girardi called upon another shortstop, Alberto Gonzalez, to get the final out of the ninth inning in a game the Yankees were losing 12-2 to the Seattle Mariners. Gonzalez obliged by getting Robert Andino to fly out to center field.

Girardi had specific instructions for Anna: "Just do not get hurt. Lob it in. I don't want to have to come out there and yell at you because you're throwing too hard. Just play catch." Anna followed the instructions to the letter. He threw 17 pitches, 14 of them for strikes.

"Someone told me I topped out at 72 [miles per hour]," he said, laughing. "I probably could have hit 85 or 86 if I aired it out."

After suffering the embarrassment of the swing-and-miss, Loney stroked a single to right. Myers then doubled to left, sending Loney to third. After getting Sean Rodriguez to pop out and Logan Forsythe to line out to left, Hanigan delivered the two-run single that drove Anna's ERA to 18.00, from which it will likely never retreat.

"When I do lessons back home, that's actually how I throw: just a nice little flick in there," said Anna, who works with young ball players at a baseball camp near Chicago in the offseason. "It was actually pretty easy throwing strikes and stuff like that, but it's not fun when I'm out there. Not fun at all."

Ivan Nova leaves with sore elbow

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
[+] EnlargeJoe Girardi, Ivan Nova
AP Photo/Mike CarlsonYankees starter Ivan Nova was pulled in the fifth inning Saturday night and sent for an MRI.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The New York Yankees were blown out by the Tampa Bay Rays, 16-1, on Saturday night at Tropicana Field, but they potentially lost a lot more than just a game when Ivan Nova, their No. 3 starter, left in the fifth inning with soreness in his pitching elbow.

Nova was taken to a Tampa, Fla., hospital for an MRI. The results were not immediately available.

"Obviously, we're really concerned," manager Joe Girardi said. "Any time a guy leaves a game because he feels something, you're concerned."

Nova had been hit hard throughout the first four innings of the game, allowing six runs on four home runs -- two by catcher Ryan Hanigan and one each by Evan Longoria and Wil Myers -- but showed no signs of distress until he threw what turned out to be his final pitch of the game, a flat curveball that Matt Joyce lined into left field for a double.

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Rapid Reaction: Rays 16, Yankees 1

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse than Fright-day Night at the Trop, along came Shudder-day Night.

In what was, statistically, the worst performance by a New York Yankees starter in a century, and maybe the worst all-around team performance in a decade, the Yankees got crushed 16-1 by the Tampa Bay Rays.

How bad was it? So bad that Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to turn to infielder Dean Anna to pitch the eighth inning.

And compared to the professional pitchers who preceded him, Anna wasn't all that bad. In fact, he was better than Matt Daley and a whole lot better than Ivan Nova.

The gory details:

No good: Nova had a nightmare of a game, allowing a career-high four home runs, including two to Ryan Hanigan, the No. 9 hitter in the Rays lineup.

Nova then left the game at an opportune moment -- two on, none out and Evan Longoria at the plate -- in the fifth inning with what was announced as "right elbow soreness." Two starts back, Nova allowed seven earned runs in 3⅔ innings against the Baltimore Orioles.

Historic performance: According to Katie Sharp of ESPN Stats & Info, Nova is the only Yankees starter in the past 100 years to allow at least eight earned runs and four home runs in four innings or fewer.

Archenemy: The Yankees have now faced Rays starter Chris Archer four times, lost four times and scored a grand total of four earned runs in 28⅔ innings (1.35 ERA). On Saturday, Archer worked into the seventh inning, allowing just three hits (one an infield single) and one run.

Long gone: Who else but Longoria would hit the most impressive homer of all, a moon shot off a first-pitch curveball that nearly hit the top of the dome before landing on the furthest catwalk from home plate, way back in the left-field seats? Ben Zobrist was aboard, giving the Rays a 4-0 lead in the third inning. It gave Longoria the all-time Rays franchise lead, which, if you've seen him hit against the Yankees, you would have thought he already had.

The Daley Double: Wil Myers hit his second home run of the game, a three-run shot, off Daley, who was called up Friday night from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Girardi left Daley in for mop-up duty, but after he allowed four more runs, the manager mercifully pulled him and brought in Dellin Betances with one out in the sixth.

What's next: The series finale on Sunday afternoon. Vidal Nuno (0-0, 14.54 ERA) gets the spot start for the Yankees, opposed by lefty Cesar Ramos (0-1, 7.50). First pitch is at 1:40 p.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Ryan Hanigan homered twice and had six RBIs, and Chris Archer continued his dominance over the Yankees as the Tampa Bay Rays routed New York 16-1 on Saturday night.

Hanigan drove in his final two runs with a single off Yankees infielder Dean Anna, who gave up two runs and three hits in the eighth inning.

Archer (2-1) allowed one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings. He has won all four career starts against the Yankees, allowing four earned runs in 28 2/3 innings.

Wil Myers and Evan Longoria both drove in four runs for the Rays.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova (2-2) gave up a career-high four home runs before leaving in the fifth with right elbow soreness. The right-hander allowed eight runs and eight hits in four-plus innings.

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Game 18: Yankees (10-7) at Rays (8-9)

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi had said all weekend he would be giving Derek Jeter a day off in one of the four games on the turf here.

Well, with tough righty Chris Archer going for the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday, this is that day. Girardi is sitting Jeter and will use him in Sunday afternoon's series finale against lefty Cesar Ramos. (Jeter has never faced Archer and is 1-for-3 versus Ramos.)

Here is the lineup Girardi is sending out against Archer on Saturday:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Brett Gardner, LF
Carlos Beltran, DH
Brian McCann, C
Alfonso Soriano, RF
Yangervis Solarte, 3B
Kelly Johnson, 1B
Brian Roberts, 2B
Dean Anna, SS

Ivan Nova, RHP

NOTES: Before his first game back after involuntarily vaulting over a side wall chasing a foul ball Thursday, Beltran said he feels "100 percent better" than he did Friday, when he sat out. Still, Girardi chose to put Beltran at DH rather than have him play the field. ... Both Mark Teixeira and David Robertson played in an extended spring game Saturday morning at Steinbrenner Field and both came out OK. Typically, Girardi would not commit to reactivating Teixeira for Sunday's game, but Girardi said, "Obviously we feel that he’s ready to go. We’ll talk about it tonight. I want to talk to him when he gets here, see how he’s feeling and then we’ll go from there.” ... Brendan Ryan, on the other hand, had a minor setback. Ryan was supposed to play Saturday morning, too, but after reporting some hamstring soreness, was told to take some simulated at-bats instead. "Hopefully next week he'll be back in games," Girardi said. ... Anna is getting his first start since the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs. ... Girardi said that aside from Adam Warren, who threw 32 pitches in his one inning Friday, his entire bullpen is available Saturday -- all except Vidal Nuno, who is starting Sunday. ... Righty Matt Daley, who was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre late Saturday night after Cesar Cabral was designated for assignment, arrived at Tropicana Field around 3 p.m. and is available Saturday, as well. ...David Phelps, who got hit by a line drive Friday, just above his right hip, is OK and available to pitch Saturday if needed. ... Girardi still seemed steamed about home plate umpire Joe West's ejection of Cabral on Friday, after Cabral hit three Rays in the eighth inning. "He said he didn't think he was trying to hit them on purpose," Girardi said of West. "I don't know how you fine him, then. I’ve never seen a guy thrown out when they didn’t feel there was intent. And I’ll just leave it at that." ... Girardi said the decision to designate Cabral, which essentially ends his Yankees career, was made because the team needed to call up a pitcher for Saturday and Sunday. “It’s tough," Girardi said. "You feel for the kid. He’s given you everything he’s got, and he had some command issues last night. We just got put in kind of a tough situation, so we made a move.” Reporters interviewing Girardi immediately after Friday's game noticed general manager Brian Cashman trying to call Girardi on his cellphone several times during the brief media session. Cabral was summoned into Girardi's office shortly thereafter.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- By this time tomorrow, the Yankees should be announcing the reinstatement to their roster of Mark Charles Teixeira, their $23-million-a-year first baseman who is expected to be ready to return after a 15-day stay on the disabled list with a hamstring strain.

That means there will be one infielder too many on the Yankees roster, and someone will have to go.

Rest assured, it will not be Yangervis Solarte.

[+] EnlargeYangervis Solarte
AP Photo/Steve NesiusYangervis Solarte won't be leaving the Yankees lineup anytime soon.
The 26-year-old rookie, whose formidable skill set somehow eluded the detection of the Minnesota Twins organization for six minor league seasons and the Texas Rangers for two more, is among the leading hitters not only on the Yankees roster, but in the American League. He started Friday night's game leading the AL in batting (.373), on-base percentage (.448), slugging percentage (.569), doubles (seven) and hits (19).

So he's not going anywhere soon. The slipper might yet fall off in this Cinderella story, but he's already done too much for the Yankees to be in any hurry to pull the plug on him.

However, when Teixeira comes back, he's going right back to first base. That means Kelly Johnson is going back to third. Derek Jeter is a fixture (no jokes, please) at shortstop. And Brian Roberts was signed to play second base -- most days anyway.

So where does Solarte fit in, and who sits to make room for him?

"I’ll worry about that when we get there," manager Joe Girardi said. "The kid has played great, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re playing well -- and you’re playing extremely well -- you’re going to continue to play someplace."

Girardi agreed that it was unusual that a player who appears as poised and accomplished as Solarte has in his first 17 big league games could have been overlooked by not one, but two major league organizations over a period of eight years.

But he refused to take the bait that somehow what Solarte has shown the Yankees is an illusion and that eventually, and inevitably, he will return to being the player that never impressed either the Twins or the Rangers enough to take a chance on him. The Rangers, in fact, allowed him to leave as a minor league free agent, and the Yankees scooped him up.

"Some guys are late bloomers," Girardi said. "It’s a short sample, I understand that, but it seems like the kid has an idea of what he’s doing. Sometimes, you wonder how a guy doesn’t get an opportunity."

So far, he has shown an ability to play two infield positions -- second and third -- and Girardi said he would even consider using him at shortstop "in a pinch." So badly did the Yankees want to find a role for him this spring that they even tried him in left field. An added plus is that he's a switch-hitter who has shown equal ability from each side of the plate.

"There are those days you think, 'Is there a day he’s not going get a hit?' and he finds a way to get a hit," Girardi said. "He’s just been really consistent with what he’s done. No matter where we’ve played him, third or second, he’s done a good job for us. He has not been fazed by his surroundings at all. You think about some of the people that he’s probably looked up to over the years watching them play. He’s sitting next to them now performing at an extremely high level."

So there's no question he will continue to play. He will even play tonight, I would bet, even though he fouled a ball off his left shin in the seventh inning last night and was dragging a huge bag of ice on his lower leg in the clubhouse afterward.

When asked Solarte if he was OK to play, he laughed. "I'm fine, fine," he said.

He's come too far to allow something as minor as a bruised shin to keep him out of the lineup.

He'll be in there, all right. The question is where, and in place of whom?

Question: When Tex returns, who should Yangervis Solarte replace in the Yankees infield, Kelly Johnson or Brian Roberts?

Tonight: The Yankees need length out of Ivan Nova (2-1, 5.94 ERA) after the bullpen meltdown in Friday's 11-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Nova faces right-hander Chris Archer (1-1, 4.50) in Game 3 of this four-game series. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m.

Cabral tossed from game, from team

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
ST. PETERSBURG -- It was a scene straight out of the Steinbrenner Yankees playbook, circa the late 1900s: a young reliever, having suffered through a horrendous outing, suffering one more indignity.

The axe.

That is what fell on Cesar Cabral just moments after the domed roof of Tropicana Field fell in on him Friday night. Less than a half-hour after Cabral had been tossed from the game by home plate umpire Joe West after hitting his third batter in the eighth inning, he was tossed from the Yankees roster.

Just moments after a worried Cabral told ESPNDeportes' Marly Rivera, "I hope that what I've done so far [one scoreless inning in three appearances] merits a place on this team," pitching coach Larry Rothschild summoned him into the manager's office. There, Joe Girardi broke the news that the Yankees were designating him for assignment, meaning they have 10 days to trade or release him.

"I can't believe this," Cabral said, "but I guess this is baseball."

It is when you pitch the way Cabral did, allowing singles to the first two batters he faced, hitting Evan Longoria and James Loney in succession, allowing a two-run single to Wil Myers and finally plunking Logan Forsythe, which prompted West to eject him.

"Obviously we're not trying to hit anyone there and I feel bad that we hit three people," said Girardi, who was angered that West ran Cabral without a warning. "Obviously, he had no command."

Cabral said West gave no reason for the ejection. "They know I don’t want to hit anybody," Cabral said. "I was surprised because [West] don’t tell me nothing."

Rays manager Joe Maddon agreed that none of the plunkings were intentional but thought West did the right thing. "Someone was going to get hurt out there," he said.

Girardi seemed most annoyed by the fact that Cabral's ejection meant he had to use Shawn Kelley on a night in which the closer should never have to get off his bullpen chair.

"It's unfortunate that we had to do it," he said. "But fortunately he came in and got a quick out and didn't have to throw many pitches."

Girardi's intention was to use Cabral for as long as he needed, even if he knew it would be the last time.

Bullpen 'hiccup' could sink Yanks

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manager Joe Girardi called it "a hiccup," but it was more like a hemorrhage: four pitchers, two innings, eight earned runs.

That was what the Yankees bullpen did Friday night after having strung together seven stellar games and 15⅓ scoreless innings.

A hiccup, of course, is just a momentary annoyance. A hemorrhage is often fatal. Girardi better hope he is right and that what happened to David Phelps, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and, worst of all, Cesar Cabral in Friday night's 11-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays is something that can be cured simply by holding your breath.

Otherwise, it's too scary to contemplate.

[+] EnlargeCesar Cabral
AP Photo/Steve NesiusHow bad was Cesar Cabral on Friday? He lost his job immediately after the game.
After all, any relief pitcher can have an off night. But when just about every relief pitcher that enters a game has an off night, well, that means the entire bullpen has had an off night, and no team can afford to have many of those.

Yes, it's early in the season; yes, it's only one game; and, yes, the Yankees are still 11-7 and on top of the AL East by a game.

But for one night at least, all the preseason fears about the bullpen came true -- in living color -- and probably worse than anyone could have imagined.

Cabral was the worst of all. He faced six batters without getting a single out, allowing three hits, three runs, hitting three batters, throwing a wild pitch and getting ejected after the third hit batsman by plate umpire Joe West, who was probably acting to protect the Rays hitters. Certainly, Girardi had no such intentions; he fully planned to leave Cabral out there as long as possible so as not to have to use Shawn Kelley, his interim closer while David Robertson's groin strain heals.

Cabral was so bad he lost his job. The Yankees announced after the game he had been designated for assignment and would be replaced on the roster by Matt Daley, a right-handed reliever from Long Island.

But Warren, who had been so good Girardi was talking about him as a permanent late-inning reliever, wasn't much better than Cabral. He worked an inning and allowed three runs on four hits, including the back-breaker: Sean Rodriguez's long, two-run home run that turned a 6-5 game into an 8-5 game, effectively putting it out of reach.

In descending order, there was Phelps, who faced three batters and gave up a hit that turned into a run, and Thornton, who faced two hitters and allowed a single and got one out only because Yunel Escobar made a baserunning mistake that allowed Derek Jeter to throw him out at third. Thornton, too, got charged with one run in the Rays' three-run seventh.

But the real problem was that neither Phelps nor Thornton ever appeared capable of regaining control of the game once the Rays started threatening. And without Dellin Betances, who worked two innings on Thursday, and Vidal Nuno being saved for a spot start on Sunday, Girardi had no choice but to leave Warren out there longer than he should have, and to even bother going to Cabral.

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Rapid Reaction: Rays 11, Yankees 5

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After a one-night respite, the Curse of the Trop reared its ugly head against the Yankees once again tonight, transforming what looked like a routine victory into a humiliating, ugly, and disheartening 11-5 defeat.

Hiroki Kuroda wasn't very good, but he was Cy Young compared to what followed. Four Yankee relievers allowed eight runs, all with two out, in a total of two nightmarish innings before Shawn Kelley came on to end a horrific eighth. In fact, the pen was so bad it overshadowed the fact that after one big inning (the second) the Yankees bats pretty much took the rest of the night off.

Months from now, we'll either laugh about this one, or look back on it with a shudder as an omen of things to come. But for now, it's one to forget as quickly as possible.

Seventh hell: Even with the help of a horrendous Tampa Bay baserunning blunder, neither David Phelps, Matt Thornton nor Adam Warren could get a key out against the Rays in the seventh, allowing them to score three times with two out and take a 6-5 lead in a game the Yankees had led 4-0 after three innings. The big hit was a two-run single by James Loney, who had four RBIs on the night, off Warren, who faced four hitters and allowed two singles and a walk before striking out Wil Myers to finally end the inning. And it could have been worse if not for the ...

Esco-boo-boo: Rays SS Yunel Escobar nearly ran them out of the three-run seventh before it had hardly began when, after singling and reaching second on a groundout, he tried to advance to third on a grounder to shortstop. But he was easily thrown out by Derek Jeter. At the time, it looked like a costly mistake.

Wheels come off: Things spun out of control in the eighth when Warren allowed a two-out double to Ryan Hanigan followed by a long home run by Sean Rodriguez that made it 8-5 Rays. At that point, Girardi went to Cesar Cabral, who allowed a run on two singles, and then plunked Longoria and Loney in succession to load the bases. Of Cabral's first 20 pitches -- that's right, 20! -- 14 were balls. That's right. 14. When he finally threw a strike, Myers rocketed it off the third-base bag for two more runs and an 11-5 Rays lead. But Cabral wasn't done yet ...

Et tu, Cesar?: When Cabral's next pitch hit Logan Forsythe in the back, home plate ump Joe West had seen enough. Cabral faced six batters, hit three of them and allowed three hits. And threw a wild pitch.

Hiroki Eroding: Kuroda sailed along for three innings, allowing two baserunners (single, walk), both of whom were erased in double plays. But he labored through a 35-pitch fourth inning, in which the Rays scored twice, and couldn't get out of the sixth, in which he allowed another run on three hits. His final line was a mediocre 5 2/3, seven hits, three earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts.

Center of attention: Jacoby Ellsbury leaped high at the wall to take an extra-base hit away from Ben Zobrist with one out in the fourth inning. Even Ellsbury seemed impressed by the play, flipping the ball high in the air out of his glove to his bare hand before firing it back in.

Thigh-sore: Phelps left the game after being hit, apparently in the right thigh, by a line drive off the bat of Hanigan in the seventh inning. Phelps recovered in time to throw Hanigan out at first but was clearly in pain. He was replaced by Thornton.

What's next: Game 3 of this four-game series matches RHP Ivan Nova (2-1, 5.94) against RHP Chris Archer (1-1, 4.50), first pitch at 7:10 p.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- James Loney drove in four runs and the Tampa Bay Rays overcame a four-run deficit to beat the New York Yankees 11-5 on Friday night.

Pinch-hitter Desmond Jennings had an RBI single before Loney's two-run single off Adam Warren (0-1) in the seventh inning that gave Tampa Bay a 6-5 lead.

Sean Rodriguez hit a two-run homer during a five-run eighth that made it 11-5. Wil Myers, who finished with three RBIs, added a two-run single.

Yankees reliever Cesar Cabral was thrown out of the game by plate umpire Joe West after hitting his third batter, Logan Forsythe, in the eighth after Myers' hit. The left-hander earlier plunked Evan Longoria and Loney.

Longoria reached base in all five plate appearances. He had three hits, a walk and was hit near the left knee by Cabral's pitch.

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Beltran 'all over the place'

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
St. PETERSBURG -- All things considered, Carlos Beltran sees himself as one lucky guy after losing a collision with a right-field side wall in the third inning of Thursday's 10-2 Yankees win over the Rays.

After watching the video of himself running full speed into the wall and then tumbling -- and quite acrobatically, I might add -- head over heels into the narrow alley between the wall and the seats, Beltran said "I was pretty over the top. I laughed after but I was like man, you know what, this could have been pretty bad. Thank god, I was able to walk and play the game. Honestly, I was lucky."

Beltran was chasing down a foul fly by Desmond Jennings and, because of the poor visibility against the white backdrop of the Tropicana Field roof, resisted the urge to take his eye off the baseball as he ran. As a result, he had no idea of what was about to happen -- a full-speed collision with the three-foot wall that caused a succession of events that left him battered and bruised. As Beltran recalls it, his left knee hit first, followed by -- after his head-first tumble into the pit -- his right hand, bracing to take the impact, and finally his left shoulder.

"All of a sudden, I was all over the place," he said.

Although he stayed in the game, it was increasing soreness in his wrist and shoulder that prompted the Yankees to send Beltran for an MRI today, which came back negative. still, the 36-year-old outfielder was too banged up to play tonight. And according to Joe Girardi, is not available in any capacity. The hope is Beltran will be available to play tomorrow night.

"If I had the chance to do it again, I wish I would have looked," said Beltran, last week's AL Player of the Week who is batting .298 and is tied for the team lead in home runs (4) with Alfonso Soriano and in RBI (9) with rookie Yangervis Solarte. "But when that ball was hit, I thought I had a chance to make a catch. I didn’t want to take my eyes off the baseball, because of the roof."

"The wall got to him quicker than he thought," Girardi said. "Considering how bad it could've been, the news we got today, we're pretty lucky. In fact, we're thrilled."

Better winning through chemistry?

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sometimes players say things in the course of a postgame interview that fly over your head at that moment, but jump out at you when you listen back to the tape.

So it was with CC Sabathia after Thursday night's 10-2 Yankees win over the Rays. Near the end of his postgame chat, in response to an innocuous question about the current state of the Yankees, Sabathia said something that could be interpreted as significant, or even borderline explosive.

“It’s been good so far," Sabathia said. "I think the chemistry on this team is really good as opposed to the past couple of years. We’re having fun playing and the starting pitching has been great. You don't want to be that guy that messes it up. Just try to keep it going."

The operative phrase, of course, is "as opposed to the past couple of years." It raised the specter of a clubhouse cancer infecting the Yankees in previous seasons, and since four big names are no longer with the club -- Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano -- it even suggested that perhaps one of them could have been the reason. (I think we would all agree on the most obvious candidate in that list.)

So I circled back on CC this afternoon to ask him exactly what he meant.

"It just seems like the team is having more fun this year than last year," he said. "We added a lot of good guys, Mac [Brian McCann], Jacoby [Ellsbury], Carlos [Beltran]. It's just a good group of guys this year."

So then I cornered Joe Girardi and asked if he thought he had a chemistry problem in his clubhouse last year. "I wouldn't say we had a chemistry problem," he said. "But there were a lot of moving parts, with all the injuries. There was no consistency on the roster, so it was tough for guys to get to know one another. Guys were here for a while and then they were gone. This group has been together since the beginning of spring training, and it makes a difference."

Last year, the Yankees used a franchise record 56 players over the course of an injury-decimated season, including guys such as Chris Nelson, Brent Lillibridge, Reid Brignac and Alberto Gonzalez, who were Yankees for less that two weeks. Then there were guys such as Travis Ishikawa and Chris Bootcheck, who were with the club for virtually one day.

This year, the Yankees have used 29 players so far. And with the exception of Mark Teixeira, they have had their regulars pretty much intact for the first 17 games of the season.

However, the improved continuity has yet to show itself in the record. To this point in the season, the patchwork 2013 Yankees and the (so far) consistent 2014 Yankees have exactly the same record: 10-6.

Game 17: Yankees (10-6) @ Rays (7-9)

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
TAMPA -- Carlos Beltran's close encounter with a wall in Friday night's 10-2 win over the Rays turned out not to be as bad as it looked, although it was bad enough to keep him out of the lineup tonight. Beltran went for MRIs on his left shoulder and right wrist, which took the brunt of the impact when he flipped over the wall chasing down a third-inning foul ball, and to the Yankees', and his, relief, they came back negative. But the soon-to-be 37 Beltran was pretty sore today, so Girardi is holding him out tonight. He hopes to be able to play tomorrow.

Nothing of the sort for Brian Roberts, who says he is fine and was taking swings in the cage just before the game. Girardi said Roberts, who has a history of injury and just missed three game with back spasms, was scheduled to have off for one of the four games on the turf here, will have that off-day tonight.

So here's the lineup for tonight's game against the Rays and LHP Erik Bedard, first pitch at 7:10 p.m.:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Scott Sizemore 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

Hiroki Kuroda RHP

Mark Teixeira played five innings over at the Himes Complex today and got five at-bats. Girardi said the plan is for him to play seven innings on Saturday and hopefully rejoin the team for the series finale against the Rays Sunday afternoon ... David Robertson took fielding practice today for the first time since suffering a groin pull on April 7 and Girardi said he came through it without any issues. The plan is for Robertson to pitch in an extended-spring game on Saturday -- the same one Teixeira will play in -- and to be reactivated for the opener of the three-game series against the Red Sox in Boston on Tuesday ... Girardi said he is "leaning towards" starting Vidal Nuno against the Rays on Sunday ... As of now, the Yankees rotation for the Red Sox series is Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday, Michael Pineda on Wednesday and CC Sabathia on Thursday ... the pitchers took batting practice today in preparation for the interleague series at Milwaukee in early May, and Pineda put on quite a show, crushing at least on BP serve into the left-field seats at the Trop, much to the delight of his fellow pitchers.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.365 0 6 9
HRC. Beltran 4
RBIC. Beltran 9
RA. Soriano 10
OPSY. Solarte .957
WC. Sabathia 2
ERAM. Pineda 1.00
SOM. Tanaka 28