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Saturday, June 22, 2013
Notes: Legend of Zoilo continues

By Ian Begley

Zoilo Almonte
Zoilo Almonte drove in three runs on Saturday afternoon.
NEW YORK -- As far as encore performances go, Zoilo Almonte's was pretty good.

A night after drilling a homer to help the Yanks to a win Friday, Almonte was at it again Saturday afternoon.

He had a bases-loaded, go-ahead, two-run single in the third inning and a bases-loaded walk in the fifth in the Yanks' win over the Rays.

"Another big day," is how Joe Girardi put it.

Big day, indeed. With three more RBIs on Saturday, Almonte (four RBIs in four games) put himself in a four-way tie for the third highest RBI total through four games as a Yankee in the past 50 years. (Shelley Duncan is atop the list with seven.)

Almonte also had a home run and three hits in his first major league start on Friday night.

"I feel good right now, I'm seeing the ball really well," the 24-year-old Almonte said. "I just hope it keeps on that way."

If you're surprised about the rookie's recent star turn, you're not alone.

"I never expected it either," Almonte said. "But the opportunity is there and I had to take advantage of it."

So do the Yankees. In fact, Almonte may get a chance to take over in left during Curtis Granderson's absence.

Since Almonte is strong from the left side of the plate and Vernon Wells has had a tough time with righties, there is the potential for a platoon with Wells and Almonte until Granderson gets back.

Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner couldn't reel in Wil Myers' grand slam off CC Sabathia.
ONE PITCH ELUDES CC: If he could have one pitch back, CC Sabathia would have had a great afternoon.

Sabathia earned the win on Saturday by allowing five runs on six hits in seven innings.

The big blow off of Sabathia came with two outs in the sixth when highly touted rookie Wil Myers drilled a fastball to deep right center that eluded a leaping Brett Gardner and seemed to hit the top of the wall and bounce into the stands for a grand slam.

"Other than that, my control was pretty good," Sabathia said.

Girardi elected to have Sabathia intentionally walk Evan Longoria to get to Myers, whose homer gave Tampa a 6-4 lead.

But Wells delivered a key bases-loaded double in the seventh to give the Yanks the lead.

"It's frustrating but I'm happy these guys came back and were able to overcome that," Sabathia said.

He's lost just once in his past eight starts at Yankee Stadium and is 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in that span.

GOTTA GO TO MO: Mariano Rivera recorded his 26th save in 27 chances with a scoreless ninth. He's converted his past 40 save opportunities at home. ... Robinson Cano reached base five times, including a career-high four walks. Cano had the most walks for a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez had four in May 2009 against the Twins. ... The Yanks drew nine walks on Saturday. Four of those who walked came around to score.