With a 10-game homestand just around the corner, the New York Yankees try to finish off their three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays on a positive note Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
With an injury list that looks more and more like an outdated All-Star game roster, the Yankees managed to snap a two-game slide on Tuesday, but needed some late-game heroics by Ichiro Suzuki to pull it off. Ichiro, who finished the outing with a pair of hits, singled to center in the top of the ninth to score both Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner, just enough to get the team over the top in a 4-3 victory.
The Yankees, who are tops in the American League in home runs with 28 and have the best slugging percentage (.442), totaled nine hits on Tuesday but all of them were singles.
Phil Hughes made the start for New York, giving up two runs on six hits and a pair of walks, while fanning six over seven innings, but it was David Robertson who picked up the win. Mariano Rivera stepped up in the ninth to register his sixth save of the campaign, although he did allow a home run to Evan Longoria.
Aside from Longoria, who now has five home runs this season, Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce also scored in the setback as the Rays had a four-game win streak halted.
David Price made it through eight innings, permitting three runs on eight hits, but again failed to register his first win of the season even though he threw better than 70 percent of his pitches for strikes. Price has now made five starts on the season, all of which have ended in defeat for the Rays.
"We're still 0-5 when I pitch," Price noted. "I don't feel better."
Now in his 18th major league campaign, Andy Pettitte is set to take the hill for the Yankees in Florida. Off to a 3-0 start, the Louisiana native logged 7 1/3 innings in his last outing on Friday at Toronto, giving up three runs on six hits, striking out five in what turned into a 9-4 victory for the visitors.
The left-hander has a career mark of 17-6 against the Rays in 32 appearances, sporting a 3.95 ERA while allowing Tampa Bay batters to hit .282 against him.
Countering for the Rays is Alex Cobb, fresh off his second win of the campaign on Friday versus Oakland. Against the A's, the right-hander was knocked around for 10 hits through 7 1/3 innings, but surrendered just three runs and struck out three in the 8-3 triumph.
Cobb owns a 1-1 record with a 3.15 ERA all-time versus the Yankees in three appearances.
Playing third on Tuesday for the Yankees was Jayson Nix, assuming the spot generally reserved for Kevin Youkilis. Nix ended with a pair of hits for the second time in the least three outings. Youkilis is now out with tightness in his lower back, joining fellow infielders Mark Teixeira (strained right wrist), Derek Jeter (left ankle inflammation) and Alex Rodriguez (left hip surgery) on the inactive list for the time being.
Despite the laundry list of injuries, the Yankees are still 6-4 on the road this season and just 1 1/2 games out of first in the AL East. The Rays, 7-4 in their own stadium, are four games behind in the standings.