New York Yankees: Jayson Nix

Yankees non-tender Nix, Adams

December, 2, 2013
NEW YORK -- With the signing of Brendan Ryan, the Yankees suddenly find themselves with a surplus utility of infielders. As a result, they chose to non-tender Jayson Nix and David Adams on Monday. They also chose to non-tender RHP Matt Daley, who got into a handful of games at the end of last season. Nix was the only one who was arbitration-eligible, and all three are now free-agents, meaning it is possible the Yankees could sign one, or all, of them back.

Nix suffers fractured hand

August, 21, 2013
NEW YORK -- Yankees infielder Jayson Nix suffered a fractured left hand Wednesday night, in the team's game against the Blue Jays.

Batting in the bottom of the second inning, Nix was hit on the hand by an 80 mph fastball thrown by Toronto starter R.A. Dickey and left the game. The Yankees announced shortly thereafter that an X-ray revealed a fracture. No further information has been released at this time.

Click here to read the full story.

Nix: A-Rod, Sori gave Yankees a 'jolt'

August, 20, 2013

NEW YORK -- Fresh off his Gatorade bath following the first game-ending hit of his career, the always stoic Jayson Nix explained why this Yankees team is suddenly making a run for the playoffs.

"I feel like we have a little bit of a jolt to our team," Nix said. "We are playing really, really well."

The Yankees have won eight of their past 10 after sweeping Tuesday's doubleheader with a 3-2 ninth-inning walk-off win in the nightcap. The Yankees are seven games out in the AL East and 5 1/2 in the wild card, but have moved just a game behind the Orioles for third in the East.

Where has the jolt come from?

"I think [Alfonso Soriano] coming over here first off, he brings a lot of good energy to the team," Nix said. "He has done great and played great for us the last week especially. And then [Alex Rodriguez] playing good. As a whole we are playing a lot better and I think we all feel better for this final push."

[+] EnlargeJayson Nix
AP Photo/Kathy WillensJayson Nix gave the Yanks a "jolt" Tuesday.
With Rodriguez and Soriano struggling Wednesday night (0-for-7 combined, including three A-Rod K's and an inning-ending double play in the eighth), Nix sent the 37,190 in attendance home happy. In the seventh, with the Yankees down a run, Nix went yard for his third home run of the season to tie the game at two.

In the ninth, pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki moved to second on a sacrifice and reached third on a steal.

"It makes my job a lot easier," Nix said of Ichiro advancing to third.

Nix smacked a single to left for the winner. During his postgame, on-field interview with YES's Jack Curry, Brett Gardner sneaked behind the duo and acted like LT on Bill Parcells. The quick-moving Curry got nailed with only a few drops of the sports drink, while Nix took a bath. At this point in the season with just 37 games to go, Nix knows how important days like Tuesday have become.

"We talked about it a few weeks ago, we are in the playoffs now," Nix said. "We need to win all these games."

JETER REPORT: Joe Girardi said that everything went well with Derek Jeter's simulated game. Jeter, trying to return from his calf injury, ran the bases on Tuesday for the first time. On Wednesday, he will work out, but not play in a game. The Yankees have not said when he could return to the majors.

WARREN COMMISSIONED: Even though he had to warm up Tuesday, Adam Warren (1-2, 3.57) will start on Wednesday. He will be opposed by R.A. Dickey (9-11, 4.49).

SILENT-ROD: Rodriguez did not speak to reporters on Wednesday.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 9, Red Sox 6

August, 19, 2013
BOSTON -- In another wild night at Fenway, Ryan Dempster intentionally drilled Alex Rodriguez in the second inning, and then Rodriguez drilled a homer off Dempster in the sixth in the Yankees' 9-6 win. Rodriguez finished the night 3-for-4 with the home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. Rodriguez is now hitting .319 in 47 at-bats this season.

What it means: The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox to move 7½ games behind Boston in the AL East and six back in the wild card.

A-Rod drilled: Dempster intentionally nailed A-Rod in the second inning. Dempster threw his first pitch, an 89 mph fastball, low and behind A-Rod, causing Rodriguez to fall to the ground. After two inside pitches made it 3-0, Dempster nailed Rodriguez on the left elbow pad with a 92 mph fastball. Both benches cleared, and the bullpens emptied.

Girardi goes nuts: A livid Joe Girardi emerged from the Yankees dugout and went off on plate umpire Brian O'Nora and Dempster. Girardi was peeved at O'Nora for not tossing Dempster out of the game when it was so obvious he was throwing at A-Rod. Opposing managers, coaches and players often complain that such a warning is unfair to the side that has not done anything because it limits their pitchers from throwing inside. Plus, there was no doubt of Dempster's intention.

Girardi, who almost never swears, appeared to light up Dempster, calling him a couple of expletive-filled names that questioned the pitcher's toughness. For his troubles, Girardi was ejected. To read Wallace Matthews' initial news story that includes the video, click here.

The homer: In the sixth, with the Yankees down 6-3, Rodriguez drilled Dempster for a solo shot to center. It was a monster of a homer that Rodriguez clearly enjoyed. He slapped his hands around first, and he seemed to yell as he came around third. When he touched home plate, he seemed to mimic his friend David Ortiz's celebration by stopping at home plate and pointing to the sky with both hands.

It was his second of the season. If he hits 11 more and ties Willie Mays, he earns a $6 million bonus.

Rally starter: After A-Rod's homer, the Yankees went on to take the lead off Dempster. After two singles and a walk, Dempster was taken out for lefty Drake Britton. Brett Gardner launched a bases-clearing triple into right center to give the Yankees the lead. Gardner appeared to be one of the most fired up Yankees when A-Rod was hit and looked the same way as he went into third.

Standing O: Dempster left to a standing ovation from the Fenway fans. His final line: 5⅓ innings, 7 runs (all earned) on 9 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. Oh, and he hit a batter.

No ace: CC Sabathia had little for the Yankees. He gave up 6 earned runs on 7 hits in 5⅓ innings and failed to retaliate. In his sixth and final inning, he threw a 92 mph fastball to Jacoby Ellsbury high and inside. It is debatable if the pitch was on purpose, because there was a man on and the Yankees were up just a run. Sabathia will surely say it was not.

Another injury: Eduardo Nunez hurt himself in the four-run sixth. He hit a single and then landed awkwardly on the bag as he scurried back to first. He stayed in the game and advanced to third, but then was taken out with a tight right hamstring. Jayson Nix replaced him.

Mo like it: Mariano Rivera, pitching for the first time since he blew his third consecutive save a week ago, picked up the save. The Red Sox fans gave Rivera a standing ovation.

Rivera brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia batted. Saltalamacchia lined out hard to left. The game lasted four hours and 12 minutes.

Cano hit: In the ninth, Rubby De La Rosa hit Robinson Cano on the foot. De La Rosa wasn't ejected, and the pained Cano stayed in the game.

On deck: Wally and I will have all the news from the clubhouse. Plus, Wally will chime in with a column. I'll be on with Robin Lundberg after 1 a.m. ET on 98.7 FM and on "Mike & Mike" on ESPN Radio on Monday at 9:15 a.m. ET. Plus, I'm sure there will be more around-the-clock coverage of you know who.

In the hole: The Yankees are off on Monday and then play four games in three days against the Blue Jays, including a day-night double-header on Tuesday in the Bronx.

A-Rod story roundup: Grievance, Brian Cashman, Drilling and Payoff.

Yankees to activate Nix; Grandy next?

July, 28, 2013
NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters that utility infielder Jayson Nix will be activated from the disabled list Tuesday, when the team opens up a series on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Nix has been out with the hamstring strain. He provides the Yankees with insurance in the event that Derek Jeter suffers another injury.

Nix is hitting .236 with two home runs and 20 RBIs in 73 games this season.

Also on the injury front, Girardi nodded his head yes when asked if it was a possibility that center fielder Curtis Granderson could return Friday in San Diego. Granderson is currently rehabbing a broken pinkie.

"We are pleased with the progress that he's making, so I don't think that you'll see Granderson in L.A., obviously, but we'll see after that," Girardi said.

Jeter's simulated game location? A mystery

July, 27, 2013
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter will play a simulated game Saturday, as first reported Friday. Where and when that game will take place, however, is not being publicly revealed by the Yankees.

"We're not gonna disclose where it's at," manager Joe Girardi said prior to the Yanks' 1:05 p.m. game against the Rays. "Just gonna let him go do his work, and we'll see how he is after today."

Jeter, 39, is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but the Yankees appear to be playing it extra-safe with their veteran shortstop. He made his season debut July 11, but suffered a quadriceps strain running the bases and hasn't played in a game since.

The captain worked out at Yankee Stadium on Friday, but was not in the clubhouse Saturday morning when it was open to the media, nor has he been spotted on the field here in the Bronx.

MORE INJURY UPDATES: Curtis Granderson and Jayson Nix are both scheduled to play for the Single-A Tampa Yankees on Saturday, according to Girardi, as they continue to work their way back to the big leagues.

Tampa will host the Charlotte Stone Crabs at 5:30 p.m.

Granderson went 0-for-3 with an RBI groundout for Tampa on Friday, and Nix went 1-for-4 with an RBI double.

Girardi indicated that Nix (hamstring) could rejoin the Yankees when they begin a West Coast road trip on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Granderson (finger) will need more rehab time in the minor leagues.

Nixy's hammy cranky

July, 2, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS -- Now, it's Jayson Nix's turn to get bit by the injury bug.

The Yankees' backup utility infielder, who has been pressed into everyday service at shortstop and third base due to the rash of injuries that has decimated the team, is not in the lineup for tonight's game against the Twins due to some "tightness" in his right hamstring suffered when he legged out a double in the ninth inning of Monday night's 10-4 win.

Nix stayed in the game, and according to Joe Girardi, the injury is being considered a one-day inconvenience, not a long-term problem. Still, it leaves the Yankees with just two bench players tonight, Vernon Wells and Austin Romine.

"It's not what you want," Girardi said. "It just tests your depth even more, but it's something we've had to deal with, and we'll deal with it."

Alberto Gonzalez will play shortstop tonight in place of Nix, who said he is available to pinch hit if necessary.

"It just kind of tightened up a little bit when I stretched out the double last night," Nix said. "I wasn’t too concerned about it, just something that was there and was a little bit sore after the game. It's a little something that kind of started, so we're going to keep it under control."

Girardi said that right now, there are no tests scheduled for Nix, but he conceded that playing with a short bench is not a situation that can persist for very long. Eduardo Nunez, on the DL with an oblique strain, is playing tonight for the Class A Charlotte RiverDogs in the same game as Alex Rodriguez but is not quite ready to return.

"We're going to go day-by-day," Girardi said. "We'll go a couple of days and see how it is."

Postgame notes: Say it ain't so, Joe

June, 27, 2013

NEW YORK -- The Yankees wound up losing to the Texas Rangers by three runs, 8-5, at Yankee Stadium, but it was only a one-run game when Joe Girardi made what seemed to be the decision of the night: Removing Ichiro Suzuki, currently his hottest hitter, from the lineup in the eighth inning and replacing him with Austin Romine, who is hitting .138.

Girardi had looked like a genius in the seventh, sending Vernon Wells up to hit for Chris Stewart. Wells singled and Ichiro followed with a home run for the second night in a row -- he won Tuesday's game with a ninth-inning walk-off -- forcing Girardi to find a spot for Romine, the only other catcher on his roster. He chose to pull Ichiro rather than Zoilo Almonte, who was coming up to bat second in the eighth inning.

[+] EnlargeAndy Pettitte
AP Photo/Kathy WillensA struggling Andy Pettitte on his performance Wednesday night and of late? "It hurts."
Girardi's reason? "If you don't get a base hit, Ich is not gonna hit. So the hope is you're going to get a hit, but there's no guarantees and Ich's spot never came up."

In other words, the manager of the New York Yankees did not think his team would get another hit in the game, so what difference did it make?

It turned out Girardi was right -- the last six Yankees went down in order, leaving Romine on deck at the final out -- but there was also a residual effect. Almonte's inexperience and enthusiasm in left field might have contributed to Brett Gardner's ninth-inning error, when he seemed to hesitate slightly going after A.J. Pierzynski's line drive to the gap, which led to two more runs and put the game out of reach. Earlier, a Jayson Nix throwing error had led to an unearned run against Andy Pettitte.

In the clubhouse afterward, Ichiro, who has hit .364 on this homestand (12-for-33, seven RBIs) did his best to appear on board with the move.

"As a player, you just accept it," he said through his translator, Allan Turner. "Of course, there's a reason behind it, so all I can do is prepare for tomorrow and that's what I've started to do."

Asked if he could explain exactly what the reason was, Ichiro said, "I think we all understand the reason. Obviously, I understand the reason. I'm not going to ask him why, and I don't think he needs to explain it to me. We're all big leaguers here, and we understand the game. I understand the reason why. You are trying to make it difficult, but even if you throw some hard questions at me I'm still going to answer it in a way you probably don't want to hear."

• Pettitte, who lost for the fourth time in six starts and his third in a row for just the fifth time in his career, seemed puzzled over why what worked so well for him early in the season doesn't seem to be working now. "It hurts," he said. "I pride myself on making big pitches. Just right now, it's not happening for me. It'll turn, there's no doubt about it. I just want my body to continue to feel good. And if I keep throwing it where I am now, I know it's gonna turn around. I just have to stay positive and keep going out there. It ain't nothing I haven't been through before."

Lyle Overbay's solo home run in the second inning gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead. It was Overbay's first home run at Yankee Stadium since May 4.

• Wells, who appears to have lost the left-field job to young Almonte, might have found his niche as a pinch hitter. His seventh-inning single made him 3-for-7 (.429) as a pinch hitter this season.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Yankees 5

June, 26, 2013
NEW YORK -- For the second night in a row, there was some bite in this toothless Yankees offense. Only tonight, the lineup came up a couple of teeth short as the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees 8-5.

What it means: That the Yankees must rely on the struggling Phil Hughes in tomorrow afternoon's series finale to avoid losing the series and finishing 4-5 on this homestand.

Cruz Control: Nelson Cruz belted the first pitch he saw from Joba Chamberlain into the visitors bullpen with one on in the seventh to extend the Rangers' lead to 6-3 after the Yankees had cut it to a run the previous inning. It was Cruz' 20th home run of the season, which makes five straight seasons for him with at least 20 dingers.

Job-Booooo: Chamberlain, once a fan favorite here, was loudly booed off the mound after facing six hitters and allowing four hard hits, including Cruz's homer, a double into the right-center gap by Adrian Beltre and a single by Lance Berkman that failed to score a run when Rangers' third-base coach Gary Pettis chose to hold Beltre at third rather than test Ichiro Suzuki's arm.

Slender Slugger: Ichiro, who won Tuesday night's game with a walk-off homer, drew the Yankees to within one run with a moon shot into the second deck in right with Vernon Wells (pinch-hit single) aboard to cut the Rangers' lead to 6-5. And somehow, Joe Girardi chose to pull Ichiro, the hottest hitter in the lineup, the next inning and insert the weak-hitting Austin Romine into his lineup spot.

Boot Gardner: Brett Gardner was charged with a two-base error in the ninth when he allowed A.J. Pierzynski's long fly to bounce off his glove, but he might have been distracted by Zoilo Almonte, who strayed into his airspace from left field. The error led to two unearned insurance runs against Shawn Kelley, who gave up an RBI single to Lance Berkman and a sac fly to Mitch Moreland.

Deep-sixed: The Yankees had a golden opportunity to tie the game -- or even take the lead in the sixth inning -- getting four consecutive hits, including a double by Ichiro, but came away with a disappointing two runs when, after cutting the Rangers lead to 4-3, Lyle Overbay struck out. After Almonte walked to load the bases, Jayson Nix rapped into an inning-ending double play.

Lyle Overwall: The Yankees got on the board in the second inning when Overbay hit his ninth home run of the season off Justin Grimm. So who needs Mark Teixeira?

Death by bunts: The Rangers went bunt-crazy on the Yankees in the third, reaching base on two, one of which nearly resulted in an injury to Andy Pettitte. In scrambling to field Leonys Martin's leadoff bunt, Pettitte got his left arm hung up on Nix trying to make the throw and fell to the ground in apparent pain. He then walked Ian Kinsler, after which Elvis Andrus laid down another bunt, and this time Nix's high throw pulled Overbay off the bag at first, which loaded the bases. After Pettitte struck out Cruz, Beltre lined a two-run double off the left-field fence to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead, followed by a Pierzynski single that scored two more to make it 4-1.

Foul Play: The inexperience of the left side of the Yankees defense -- Nix at third, Alberto Gonzalez at short and Almonte in left -- was on display in the seventh when all converged on Pierzynski's foul pop behind third base and let it fall among them. It seemed as if Nix pulled up, thinking either Gonzalez or Almonte would handle it. It made you long for the return of Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, or even Eduardo Nunez.

What's next: The series finale against the Rangers. Hughes (3-6, 5.09 ERA), possibly pitching for his rotation spot, faces left-hander Derek Holland (5-4, 3.43 ERA). First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.

Mini-shakeup in the Bronx

June, 21, 2013
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman don't have many options so they are shaking things up where they can.

The main transaction Friday: Reid Brignac is out and Alberto Gonzalez is back in.

What it means, according to Girardi, is that Jayson Nix will now be the everyday shortstop and David Adams will be the guy at third.

Still, the biggest news in the the new lineup might be the addition of Zoilo Almonte.

The switch-hitting Almonte, who just turned 24, is making his first career start on Friday night -- and has a chance to make many more.

As you know, Girardi is loath to make any firm declarations, but it sounds as if Almonte may be given an opportunity to take Vernon Wells' playing time. Wells is hitting .107 in June and .221 overall. Girardi would only say that he would take it "day by day."

If Almonte hits, he will stay in the lineup.

At Triple-A this season, Almonte was batting .297 with a .789 OPS. He is 1-for-2 as a major leaguer.

Adams will receive a further look at third with Kevin Youkilis possibly out for the rest of the year and Alex Rodriguez not due back until about a month from now, at the earliest. Adams is hitting .200 with two homers and seven RBIs in 23 games. Girardi said that Adams has done, "OK," but indicated the league has adjusted to him after his initial quick start.

Brignac came in with a reputation for not being able to hit a lick -- and lived down to it. He was designated for assignment with a .114 average in 44 at-bats. Gonzalez had three hits in nine at-bats in his first go-around with the Yankees. He was hitting .224 in 23 games for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

As for going from a mini-shakeup to a Manny-shakeup, Girardi declined to talk about Manny Ramirez, saying that it was a front office question. Cashman did not return a text seeking comment.

The Yankees picked up two pitchers on Friday, as well. Yoshinori Tateyama, who was with the Texas Rangers' Triple-A team, is a 37-year-old righty. He had a 4.24 ERA for Round Rock. reported the Yankees also acquired Mike Zagurski from the Pirates. Zagurski, 30, is a lefty, who made six appearances with Pittsburgh this season. He had a 2.14 ERA at Triple-A in 21 innings. Zagurski had been designated by the Pirates.

Both Tateyama and Zagurski will go to Triple-A Scranton.

Yankees' offense is scary bad right now

June, 21, 2013
NEW YORK -- Even when the Yankees do score runs these days, it’s ugly.

Don’t be fooled by that 8-3 final score. The Yanks looked just as anemic against the Rays on Thursday as they looked against the Dodgers the night before.

The Bronx Bombers -- and we use that term loosely -- had just six hits against Tampa Bay. Five of them were singles -- two of the infield variety. The only extra-base knock? A ground-rule double by Lyle Overbay in the seventh inning.

The Yankees (39-33) have now lost seven of nine and have scored just 15 runs combined in those seven defeats.

[+] EnlargeRobinson Cano
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIThe Yankees had just six hits in Thursday's opener.
"We’re in a little funk right now, and we need to get out of it," center fielder Brett Gardner said.

The Yanks were facing a tough pitcher in Matt Moore, who was 8-0 with a 2.18 ERA in the first two months of the season. But he'd been awful in his first three starts of June, giving up 19 runs in 12⅓ innings and losing all three.

Moore was better on Thursday -- at least in the Yankees' eyes.

"He’s got a fastball that’s 93, 94, 95 [miles per hour], but it plays up a little harder than that. And he's got a real good breaking ball," Gardner said. "When he’s able to command his pitches and throw strikes, he’s as good as it gets."

The Yankees did score three runs off Moore in the fourth inning -- but it was the weakest three-run inning you'll ever see. They had just one hit in the frame, a leadoff single by Reid Brignac. Gardner and Jayson Nix both walked to load the bases with nobody out. Brignac scored on a wild pitch, Gardner scored on a sac fly and Nix scored on a groundout to short.

Not exactly an offensive explosion.

Joe Girardi shook up the lineup, using Travis Hafner, even though the Yanks were facing a lefty. Hafner went 0-for-4, dropping his batting average on the season to .216 and his June average to .128.

Vernon Wells went 0-for-3 after going 0-for-7 in Wednesday's doubleheader. He's down to .221 overall, and .107 this month.

"I think the biggest thing is just getting good at-bats, and I don’t think we’ve done that consistently like we were," said Overbay, who was 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. "It seems like we’re just kinda swinging at their pitches and not ours."

Girardi defended his team, saying the slump does not stem from a lack of effort.

"We got guys that are working their butts off," the manager said. "And, unfortunately, we haven’t been scoring a lot of runs lately, and it’s cost us some games. But these guys are working, and they’re doing everything that we’re asking them to do."

The truth is, this team hasn't been very good offensively all season. The pitching has carried the way. The Yanks have the fourth-best team ERA in the American League (3.75), but they're 12th in runs scored (276) and second to last in team batting average (.239).

Why? Because they have a bunch of stars on the disabled list and are relying on guys like Hafner and Wells -- once very productive major league players but on the decline for some time.

Remember, Hafner batted just .228 for the Indians last season, and Wells hit just .230 for the Angels.

So, should we really be surprised?

The Yankees’ pregame notes Thursday touted the team’s 22-0 record when scoring five or more runs this season. That's the best record in the major leagues.

But they've now had more than twice as many games -- 50 -- in which they've scored four runs or fewer, and they're just 17-33 in those games.

There could be plenty more to come.

Postgame notes: Puig makes history

June, 19, 2013
NEW YORK -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, the former Yankees great, was the hot topic of conversation leading into this brief Yankees-Dodgers series.

[+] EnlargeYasiel Puig
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsYasiel Puig, who went 4-for-9 on Wednesday, homered for the fifth time in Game 2.
Yasiel Puig is the hot topic coming out of it.

The 22-year-old Cuban dazzled the fans in the Bronx on Wednesday, going 4-for-9 in the doubleheader. That included a home run in the seventh inning of the nightcap, as well as stunning the Yankees (and the crowd) by bunting for a single in the first.

"He’s the real deal," Yankees first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "He squared up every ball except one."

Puig, just called up on June 3, is now batting .474, with five homers and 11 RBIs. He has 27 hits in his first 15 major league games.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Puig is just the fifth player in the modern era (since 1900) to have at least that many hits in his first 15 major league games. The other four? Irv Waldron (1901, with Milwaukee), Joe DiMaggio (1936, with the Yankees), Terry Pendleton (1984, with St. Louis) and Bo Hart (2003, with St. Louis).

NO O: In Game 2 of the doubleheader, the Yankees mustered just three hits off Dodgers starter Chris Capuano and two relievers, and two of them were infield singles (by Overbay and Jayson Nix).

Robinson Cano had the other in the fourth inning -- he lined a ball into center field that should have been a double, but Cano slowed down in between first and second base and was thrown out.

"He just took too wide of a turn, is what he did," manager Joe Girardi said. "And I’m not really sure why he took such a wide turn, but he did."

Cano did not speak to reporters after the game.

NEW FACE: Zoilo Almonte, a 24-year-old outfielder just called up from Triple-A on Tuesday, made his major league debut, pinch-hitting for Austin Romine in the ninth inning.

Almonte grounded out sharply to third base.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Rays 3

May, 25, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A fine starting pitching performance by Vidal Nuno, a stirring ninth-inning rally and a game-saving catch by Ichiro Suzuki set the stage for a dramatic 11th-inning home run by Lyle Overbay that provided the New York Yankees with a most-unlikely 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at The Trop.

Lyle, love it: Overbay's home run, No. 8 of the season, into the right-field seats off Josh Lueke with two out in the 11th, was the game winner. If this is the last week of Overbay's tenure as the Yankees' starting first baseman -- and it certainly looks as if Mark Teixeira will return soon -- then he left Yankees with one to remember him by.

Great escape: David Robertson got himself into trouble right away in the bottom of the ninth, walking leadoff hitter Matt Joyce, who went to second on Jose Lobaton's sacrifice bunt. But Ichiro made a spectacular sliding catch on Yunel Escobar's slicing drive to right to save the game, and Robertson slipped a 94 mph fastball past Desmond Jennings to strand Joyce at second.

Gardy-an angel: Brett Gardner reached out and tapped a 1-2 pitch from Rays' closer Fernando Rodney to score Brennan Boesch from second, tying the game at three with two out in the ninth. But with Robinson Cano at the plate with a chance to put the Yankees ahead, Gardner got himself thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning. Cano just stood at home plate staring out at the field for a long time after the play.

By gosh: Boesch, recalled from Triple-A Scranton to replace Curtis Granderson on the roster, got the call to pinch hit for Austin Romine with two out in the ninth and made it a one-run game when he served an opposite-field double into left off Rodney, scoring Overbay (walk) to cut Tampa's lead to 3-2.

Close shave: Ivan Nova's first appearance as a relief pitcher nearly ended in disaster when he loaded the bases in the 10th on two singles and a walk, but he struck out James Loney on a honey of a slider and got Joyce to tap out to second to kill the threat. But thanks to Overbay, Nova comes away with the win, his second of the season.

Presto! Just when the game seemed to be spinning out of control on the Yankees after neither Shawn Kelley nor Boone Logan could do their jobs in the seventh inning, rookie Preston Claiborne came on to stop the bleeding with a groundout and a pair of strikeouts, stranding runners at first and third and keeping the game close enough -- 3-2 -- to enable the Yankees to tie it in the ninth.

Vidal decision: Nuno virtually matched Rays' ace Matt Moore for six innings, but things unraveled for the Yankees when manager Joe Girardi sent him out to start the seventh. Nuno allowed a leadoff single to Loney -- which looked playable by David Adams at third base -- after which Girardi pulled him for Kelley; from there, the wheels came off as the Rays went on to score twice. Still, Nuno turned in another excellent performance -- six-plus innings, five hits and two runs, one of which was Loney scoring on a hit allowed by Logan.

No Moore: Despite handcuffing the Yankees on five hits and one run over six innings, Moore had the plug pulled on him by manager Joe Maddon after 104 pitches, and lefty Jake McGee came out to pitch the seventh. That insured Moore's second no-decision of the season; he had won eight of his previous nine starts, and this was the sixth time this season Moore had held an opponent to one run or fewer. McGee got into immediate trouble when Jayson Nix led off with a single and stole second with one out -- and got out of it again when he caught both Romine and Gardner looking at fastballs to end the inning.

Nicked up: Add Nix to the list of bloodied but unbowed Yankees. He was apparently spiked on the right forearm by Rays' first baseman Loney while diving back to first on a pickoff attempt by Jose Molina and was treated by trainer Stevie Donohue, who was wearing biohazard gloves while stanching the bleeding. But Nix shook it off -- and stole second, complete with head-first slide, on the next pitch.

What's next: The series finale on Sunday afternoon. CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.43 ERA), who has had a terrible time winning at Tropicana Field -- he is 3-6 with a 4.07 ERA in 15 lifetime starts, his lowest winning percentage at any visiting park -- goes up against Alex Cobb (5-2, 2.73 ERA). First pitch at 1:40 p.m.

Silent night for Yankees' bats

May, 4, 2013
The Yankees have gotten all they could ask for, and then some, from their makeshift lineup thus far this season.

On Friday night, they got a reality check.

The Bronx Bombers, if you can really call this group that, mustered just six hits in a 2-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium.

[+] EnlargeVernon Wells
AP Photo/Julio CortezThe Yankees' patchwork lineup came back to haunt them Friday.
CC Sabathia gave the Yanks a chance by allowing just two runs in six innings despite not being at his sharpest. Adam Warren kept them in the game with three scoreless frames in relief.

But Oakland’s A.J. Griffin stymied the Yanks for seven innings, and two relievers did the same. New York did nothing with its few opportunities, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Griffin showed great promise as a rookie last season -- 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 15 starts -- but he had given up 13 runs in his past two outings.

"He seemed to stay out of the middle of the plate," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Griffin. "He seemed to make a lot of good pitches tonight."

The players credited Griffin as well.

"I think Griffin did a great job changing speeds," left fielder Vernon Wells, who was 0-for-4, said.

"He’s got that real slow curveball, and his fastball’s got decent velocity on it, but it looks harder than it is because he’s throwing that slow curveball," catcher Chris Stewart, who was 0-for-1 with a walk, said. "And he was locating his fastball, too, keeping us off balance."

To be fair, the Yankees also hit a few balls on the screws that rocketed straight at defenders.

"That’s baseball," Wells said. "You’re not gonna be able to get ‘em every night."

Maybe Griffin really was that good, but nights like these make you wonder: Just how much longer can the Yankees thrive with such a patchwork batting order?

Incredibly, the Yanks entered the day with the second-best record in the major leagues despite being without arguably four of their top five hitters -- Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez -- for the entire season.

Fill-ins like Wells, Lyle Overbay, Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix have been adequate -- in some cases, even better than that.

But we’re more than a month into the season now, and the Yankees’ luck might be running out. Even though they’d won six of their first seven games on this homestand, they’d only outscored their opponents 32-30 over that span.

The Yanks have two more games against a pesky Oakland club, now 17-13. Then comes an eight-game road trip against Colorado, Kansas City and Cleveland -- two teams with winning records, followed by a team at the .500 mark.

This good start could become a distant memory really fast.

"I think this team has done a great job over the course of this season when we’ve had opportunities, and we’ve taken advantage of a lot of them," Wells said. "Tonight wasn’t one of those nights."

The question is, how many more days and nights like this are on the horizon?
Jim Leyland and Mariano RiveraRick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsMariano Rivera acknowledges the Detroit crowd after Jim Leyland presents him with a gift.
DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers gave Mariano Rivera a retirement gift before Sunday's game, and in return Mo gave them a souvenir -- the last bat he will ever bust in a regular-season game at Comerica Park. It came at the expense of Brayan Pena, who was 15 years old when Mo got his first major league save.

SOIL SPORT: Before the game, the Tigers presented Rivera with a display case filled with photos of him pitching both at Comerica and at the old Tiger Stadium, flanked by bottles containing dirt from the pitcher's mound at both parks. The crowd also gave him a warm ovation when he took the mound to pitch the ninth inning.

"It was wonderful," said Rivera, who can expect similar ceremonies in every park he visits this year, starting Monday in Cleveland. "That will take a good place in my house. I have to build a new room because definitely I don't have space for all that. But it's great to be recognized like that."

BIG SHOT: Jayson Nix, the emergency-emergency shortstop now that Eduardo Nunez is out of the lineup recovering from a bruised biceps, delivered the biggest hit of the day, a two-run homer off Justin Verlander, who had retired him in 10 of their previous 11 meetings. The shot was even more impressive when you consider it came on a 3-1 pitch, a situation in which most hitters would be gearing up for Verlander's 95 mph heater. But Verlander pulled the string on Nix, who waited on the change and belted it over the bullpens in left-center.

"You can't really guess with him, because he's hard to predict," Nix said. "He's got four good pitches he can throw for a strike at any time, and he doesn't really get into patterns. We talked about it in the dugout before I went up there. It just turned out the pitch got a lot of the plate."

CLEAN-SHAVEN: In what will come as a relief to some and a disappointment to others, Joba Chamberlain took a blade to his upper lip on Sunday morning and relieved himself of the moustache he has worn since spring training. The growth was such a lightning rod it spawned a Twitter account devoted to Joba's moustache. But now, it is history.

"It wasn't doing us any good, so I got rid of it," he said. "I wanted to see if I still had an upper lip."



CC Sabathia
2 5.19 27 26
BAJ. Ellsbury .338
HRC. Beltran 4
RBIC. Beltran 11
RA. Soriano 11
OPSY. Solarte .906
ERAM. Tanaka 2.05
SOM. Tanaka 28