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Friday, May 24, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 9, Rays 4

By Wallace Matthews



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- And the hits just keep on coming, 11 in the game by the Yankees and one more to the gut of the team when Curtis Granderson, who missed the first 38 games of the season with a broken right forearm after being hit by a pitch, got plunked again in the fifth inning and suffered a broken left pinkie, casting a deep pall over what should have been a joyous 9-4 victory. And just moments after that announcement, the Yankees suffered another scare when David Phelps caught a line drive off the bat of Ben Zobrist on what appeared to be his right forearm, and was removed from the game.

What it means: That the Tropicana Jinx continues for the Yankees. Coming in, they had lost 13 of their past 16 games here. Even though they won tonight, they apparently lost -- once again -- their most potent home run bat in Granderson. And depending on how serious Phelps' injury is -- no details were immediately available -- they might be without a pitcher who was throwing a splendid ballgame, too.

Not again! In just his eighth game after returning from a broken right forearm caused by getting hit with a pitch in his first spring training at-bat, Granderson had to leave this one in the fifth inning after being nailed on the left hand by a pitch from Cesar Ramos. In the eighth inning, the Yankees announced the bad news: The pitch fractured the pinkie knuckle of Granderson's left hand. No word yet on whether this is a season-ender, but it's certainly a tough break, no pun intended, for both the player and the team. Alex Rodriguez suffered the same injury last year in Seattle and missed 36 games.

Brett Yard-ner: The Yankees center fielder, not known for his power, crushed a first-pitch fastball into the right-field seats with Chris Stewart aboard in the fourth to increase the Yankees' lead to 5-0. It was Gardner's fourth home run of the season; his career high is seven.

Jayson Nox: Jayson Nix had a big night at the plate, with a triple, a single, a walk, two RBIs and a run scored.

Perfect four: Phelps was perfect for four innings, plus one hitter into the fifth, before James Loney lined a double off the right-field fence. Phelps needed just 44 pitches to navigate the first four innings and seemed to be justifying Joe Girardi's faith in keeping him in the rotation over Ivan Nova, who spent the game sitting in the bullpen.

Imperfect sixth: Phelps unraveled a bit in the sixth, allowing three straight hits, two singles and a double, to put the Rays on the board. They then added two more runs on a groundout and a sacrifice fly to turn an 8-0 rout into an 8-3 ballgame. Phelps allowed another run to score in the seventh and finished with this line: 7 2/3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 K. He improves to 3-2.

Madd-ness: After seeing his starting pitcher allow three Yankees runs in the second inning, Joe Maddon took a gamble, walking Robinson Cano intentionally with runners at first and second and two out. With Vernon Wells coming up, the Yankees could have busted it wide open, but Maddon's gamble paid off when Wells popped out to the infield to end the inning.

Time for another name change: Rays starter Roberto Hernandez, who was formerly known as Fausto Carmona, lasted just four innings and allowed five runs on six hits. He is now 2-5 with a 5.73 ERA.

Et tu, Cesar?: Carmona's, er, Hernandez's, replacement, Ramos, was even worse, allowing the Yankees to bat around for the second time in the game and surrendering three runs on three hits, a walk to force in a run and a hit batter (Cano) to force in another.

What's next: The middle child of this three-game series matches Vidal Nuno (1-1, 1.13) against the Rays' Cy Young candidate, LHP Matt Moore (8-0, 2.29), first pitch Saturday at 4:10 p.m.