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Yanks win third straight behind Ellsbury, Kuroda

Outfielder homers before injury; righty solid to get NY within 4 1/2 of WC

Yanks win third straight behind Ellsbury, Kuroda play video for Yanks win third straight behind Ellsbury, Kuroda

NEW YORK -- For nearly the entire season, the Yankees' pitching staff has rarely been the culprit for the team's losses. Even after four Opening Day starters saw varied time on the disabled list, others stepped up. The problem, as it has recently continued through September, has been finding offense.

On a chilly Friday night, the Yankees continued their strong effort on the mound but at least temporarily found life with their bats. Jacoby Ellsbury contributed three RBIs, and New York pelted Toronto starter Mark Buehrle for eight hits, edging out the Blue Jays in a 5-3 victory at Yankee Stadium.

It was the Yankees' third straight win at a time when they need every one they can get, pulling to within 4 1/2 games of the Royals for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The burst of early offense wasn't exactly unprecedented considering the lefty on the mound. Buehrle entered the outing having beaten the Yankees only once in 20 career starts, putting up a 1-13 record with a 6.14 ERA in that span. His 21st outing wasn't any better.

Ellsbury carried the torch for most of the night, doubling and scoring in the first and later scorching a go-ahead two-run home run in the third. With the bases loaded in the fourth, Ellsbury grounded to second but beat out a potential double play on Jose Reyes' errant throw as two runs scored. Ellsbury sustained a strained right hamstring on the play and was pulled from the game by manager Joe Girardi at the start of the fifth inning.

"Any time a guy comes out and grabs his hamstring, you're always concerned," said Girardi. "It's not what you want. We just lost [Martin] Prado and Jake swung the bat really well tonight. He's been a huge part of our offense. It's not what you want, but you've got to deal with it. That's all we can do."

On this night, though, the veteran mainstay in the Yankees' rotation, Hiroki Kuroda, provided the silver lining to Ellsbury's bitter exit.

Kuroda battled to give the Yankees 6 2/3 innings after falling into an early hole, taking a nearly identical arc to Shane Greene's outing on Thursday night. Kuroda threw 46 pitches through two innings, making a mistake in the first to Edwin Encarnacion, who plunked one off the left-field foul pole for an early two-run lead.

But Kuroda, whom Girardi called "the one constant that we've had," showed off more of that trait, limiting the damage over the next 4 2/3 innings. The Japanese hurler earned his 11th victory of the season, the fifth straight year he's reached that plateau.

"I had great support by our offense," said Kuroda. "So if I [hung] in there, I knew we had a good chance to win the game."

Hanging in there is something Kuroda has done for the majority of the year, pitching past any doubts he might have cast late last season. In August and September of 2013, he posted a 5.40 ERA, finishing those months with a 3-7 record. It's been a different narrative in 2014.

After a brief hangover effect into April, Kuroda, nearing 40, has posted just below a 3.50 ERA since May and has recorded a 4-2 record in August and September, needing nine innings in his final start to reach 200 for the fourth consecutive season.

"He's been great," said Girardi. "You look at 2013, he had a rough last month. You look at 2014, he had a rough first month, and then he's really turned it around and been outstanding for us. I don't think any of us know what Hiro's plans are. That's a discussion for the offseason, but he's pitched really well."

That discussion could potentially be difficult for the Yankees, who already have a crowded rotation for next year and have seen some younger pitching options emerge -- like Greene -- this year that would cost significantly less contract-wise. It may also not even be a decision the Yankees need to make, as Kuroda will likely ponder retirement, something he isn't ready to think about quite yet.

"I guess since I started making one-year contracts, I always take it year by year," Kuroda said. "The season is not finished yet, and the next outing ... I may end my career there so who knows."

On Friday, he could thank his bullpen, specifically Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren, who navigated several dangerous situations to close out the game and preserve Kuroda's victory. They've kept the Yankees breathing for another day.

"[It's] almost playing like [there's] nothing to lose," said Warren. [We] just go out there, not putting pressure on ourselves, and we've benefited from that. We put a little run together. ... But at least end strong, and see what happens."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["injury" ] }

Ellsbury strains right hamstring hustling down line

Yanks outfielder exits game an inning after hitting a go-ahead homer

Ellsbury strains right hamstring hustling down line play video for Ellsbury strains right hamstring hustling down line

NEW YORK -- After what had turned into a spectacular offensive game for Jacoby Ellsbury, a sprint to first base quickly changed the outlook of his Friday night.

After beating out an errant throw from Jose Reyes with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of the Yankees' 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays, Ellsbury returned to the bag in some pain. He remained in to run the bases, but manager Joe Girardi pulled Ellsbury before the fifth inning with a strained right hamstring and the center fielder underwent an MRI soon after.

"He said it grabbed," said Girardi. "I'd be surprised if he's a player tomorrow and I'm just hopeful that it's not much. We'll have to wait and see."

Ellsbury doubled and scored in the first inning and belted a go-ahead two-run homer in the third. His grounder in the fourth produced two more runs -- with the help of Reyes' throwing error -- to pad the Yankees' lead.

Brett Gardner moved from left field to center, and Chris Young entered to replace Ellsbury in left field, batting first.

"I think [it's] a distinct possibility [that he may not return this season]," said Girardi. "Any time a guy comes out and grabs his hamstring, you're always concerned. It's not what you want. We just lost [Martin] Prado and Jake swung the bat really well tonight. He's been a huge part of our offense. It's not what you want, but you've got to deal with it. That's all we can do."

Ellsbury has never replicated his career season in 2011, when he slugged 32 home runs and drove in 105 while staying healthy for its duration. But in 2014 he has resembled shades of that season, stealing the same amount of bases (39) and homering 16 times, more than the last two years combined, offering at least some promise for the next six years of his contract.

Still, even with the Yankees' chances at the postseason unlikely, it stung to lose arguably the team's best player this season without knowing the severity of the injury.

"You could hit Ells anywhere and he's going to be productive," said Girardi. "That's the type of player he is. He's got great speed. He's really a smart baserunner. He knows how to steal bases. He knows how to get himself into scoring position. He's a great player -- offensively, defensively, there's nothing that this kid can't do. He's meant a whole lot to our club."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Capuano looks to help Yankees continue Wild Card push

New York calls on Capuano with Toronto on a six-game losing streak

Capuano looks to help Yankees continue Wild Card push play video for Capuano looks to help Yankees continue Wild Card push

Staring down a six-game suspension for throwing at an opposing hitter, Marcus Stroman will make his scheduled start against the Yankees on Saturday while his pending appeal rests with the league.

Stroman was issued the ban after he threw over the head of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph in his last start Monday. The rookie right-hander insisted the ball got away from him, but the league saw it differently and issued the suspension. He'll look to help the Blue Jays snap a six-game losing streak as they try to hang on in the American League Wild Card race.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have won three consecutive games to pull within 4 1/2 games of the Royals for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Blue Jays are 6 1/2 games back.

Stroman is coming off a tough outing vs. Baltimore, which saw him allow five earned runs. He's been one of the Blue Jays' most productive starters since the All-Star break, posting a 6-4 record with a 3.61 ERA over 11 appearances. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said earlier in the week that in the event Stroman's suspension prevents him from making the start, he'll opt to use the bullpen, likely leaning on long man Todd Redmond to eat up the majority of the innings.

"Probably get our most innings out of Redmond ... but I anticipate Stro is going to start anyway," Gibbons said.

The 23-year-old Stroman is 1-1 in a pair of starts against the Yankees, allowing three earned runs over 11 2/3 innings.

He'll square off with Chris Capuano, who earned the right to stick in New York's rotation after he limited the Rays to two hits over six scoreless innings in his last start on Monday at Tropicana Field. He has faced Toronto five times this season (two starts, three relief appearances) and has held the Jays to four runs in 12 1/3 innings as a starter. The left-hander is 2-3 in 10 starts with a 4.55 ERA after joining the Yankees' rotation in late July.

Blue Jays: After MRI on back, Encarnacion homers
Edwin Encarnacion has been experiencing some back pains the past few days, so he had a precautionary MRI on his back on Friday.

Gibbons said the back aggravates Encarnacion "every now and then," but he was in the Blue Jays' starting lineup Friday, batting third as the designated hitter. This latest problem started during the series in Baltimore, but it didn't seem to faze him in his first at-bat as he belted a two-run homer off Yankees righty Hiroki Kuroda.

"He feels it more when he's out there on the field playing, standing all the time, so it helps him to DH," Gibbons said.

Encarnacion came off the disabled list on Aug. 15 with a right quad strain that sidelined him for a little more than a month. Gibbons said Encarnacion looks healthy and does not believe that his back has hindered him during the past month.

Yankees: Tanaka to throw up to 75 pitches Sunday in return
After a successful bullpen session Thursday and some more long-toss throwing Friday, Masahiro Tanaka appears ready to make his first start since early July on Sunday.

Manager Joe Girardi indicated that he will limit Tanaka to about 70-75 pitches in his first outing back, but the circumstances may change based on how he feels. If everything goes well, Tanaka will start again before the season concludes, most likely on five days' rest.

Tanaka, 25, has not pitched in the big leagues since July 8 in Cleveland due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Yankees opted to have Ivan Nova undergo Tommy John surgery for the same type of injury, but felt Tanaka might be able to recover with rehab. It's a risk they feel is worth taking.

"I think any time someone talks about that area there's a high level of concern," said Girardi. "There's always the fear that they're going to have surgery fairly quickly like Nova did. But so far everything's been good in his rehab and we've been able to avoid it, so you hope it continues. I think we'll find out more in the next eight days, but there's always concern."

Worth noting
• The Yankees have eight walk-off wins in 2014, surpassing their '13 total (seven) and marking their most since 2009 (15).

• Dalton Pompey made his first Major League start for the Blue Jays on Friday and registered his first big league hit with a single in the second inning.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Kelley not pleased with Bautista's reaction after homer

Blue Jays slugger insists his demonstrative enthusiasm wasn't directed at pitcher

Kelley not pleased with Bautista's reaction after homer play video for Kelley not pleased with Bautista's reaction after homer

NEW YORK -- Shawn Kelley will admit that he missed his location. His batterymate, Francisco Cervelli, will admit that he called the wrong pitch. Either way, the combination resulted in Jose Bautista smacking Kelley's high fastball into the left-field seats to tie Thursday's game in the eighth inning. The Yankees, however, went on to win, 3-2.

But it's what came directly after Bautista's swing that may have angered Kelley the most, when the Blue Jays slugger slammed his bat down and began cursing as he rounded the bases. To Bautista, that was just a passionate cathartic release. To Kelley, it was something more.

"I honestly felt disrespected and I didn't do anything to deserve it," said Kelley. "I kind of saw the reaction and heard the cursing and stuff running around the bases. I didn't get it.

"We're both competitive and we're both competitors. We've still got three games, so I could still be out there facing him. So I'm not trying to start a big stir or personal battle with him or with our teams or start any drama. I was a little bothered by the way it went down last night, and I felt it was OK for me to say something."

Bautista, meanwhile, said none of his demonstrative enthusiasm had anything to do with Kelley or the Yankees, and that it was really a public venting of personal frustration.

"It's unfortunate that he thinks that any of my emotions following last night's home run had anything to do with him. It didn't," said Bautista. "I was in a moment of a lot of passion because of the developments of the game, and stuff that had happened to me throughout the game had me fired up at the moment. ... I'm sorry he felt like any of it was directed to him or the Yankees, which it wasn't."

Bautista clarified his reasoning even more.

"I [wasn't] able to come through in other moments, particularly more the first pitch in that at-bat, believing that it was a ball and it was called a strike," Bautista said. "Especially in that position, where we're fighting for our life chance-wise going to the playoffs, close ballgame, eighth inning, down by two, man on first. I was pretty fired up. I felt like it was a pitch that was a pretty bad ball [that] gets called a strike. I was yelling and cursing, too, when I fouled a ball back. Yet he doesn't seem to be too upset about that."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't notice any of the extracurricular activity during the home run trot (he was too busy watching Brett Gardner try to make a play on the ball). But he tried to put things in perspective Friday.

"People are always going to take exception to when they feel that they're being shown up. I understand that," said Girardi. "Sometimes players do it intentionally. Most of the time they don't. It's become accepted in our world that you can do things when you do things well in sports, when years ago, it wasn't acceptable. The game has changed."

Cervelli, however, wasn't bothered at all.

"They can do whatever they want," he said. "I respect every guy. I think he was upset for something, maybe his first pitch, but that's his at-bat. It doesn't bother me."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["injury" ] }

Tanaka likely to throw 70-75 pitches in Sunday start

Tanaka likely to throw 70-75 pitches in Sunday start play video for Tanaka likely to throw 70-75 pitches in Sunday start

NEW YORK -- After a successful bullpen session Thursday and some more long-toss throwing Friday, Masahiro Tanaka appears ready to make his first start since early July on Sunday.

Manager Joe Girardi indicated that he will limit Tanaka to about 70-75 pitches in his first outing back, but the circumstances may change based on how he feels. If everything goes well, Tanaka will start again before the season concludes, most likely on five days' rest.

Tanaka, 25, has not pitched in the big leagues since July 8 in Cleveland due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Yankees opted to have Ivan Nova undergo Tommy John surgery for the same type of injury, but felt Tanaka might be able to recover with rehab. It's a risk they feel is worth taking.

"I think any time someone talks about that area there's a high level of concern," said Girardi. "There's always the fear that they're going to have surgery fairly quickly like Nova did. But so far everything's been good in his rehab and we've been able to avoid it, so you hope it continues. I think we'll find out more in the next eight days, but there's always concern.

"We feel that if his arm is going to be OK, it's going to be OK. And if it's not, then we want to have [surgery] done to where you don't miss parts of two seasons. This way, if it doesn't work, you probably wouldn't have him for next season. But if he had it in July or August, you probably wouldn't have had him anyway."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["walkoff" ] }

Yanks walk off on error to gain in Wild Card

Headley's grounder scores game-winner; NY five games behind A's

Yanks walk off on error to gain in Wild Card play video for Yanks walk off on error to gain in Wild Card

NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi was a realist before Thursday's 3-2 walk-off victory over the Blue Jays. He conceded that his team's chances of making the playoffs "aren't great," with just under a dozen games left on the calendar. But, embodying the spirit of shortstop Derek Jeter, Girardi also played optimist, admitting there was still a chance.

That optimism was rewarded at least for one night when the Yankees caught a bounce their way, this time on a Chase Headley ninth-inning ground ball off Aaron Sanchez that scooted underneath first baseman Adam Lind, scoring Antoan Richardson from third base to salvage an opener that was in their control for most of the night.

"It's nice to get a break," said Headley.

"I don't know," Lind said. "It happened so fast. Basically, I did not make the play."

The walk-off win was the team's eighth of the year (Headley's third with the Yanks) and brought the Yankees to within five games of the A's for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"It's great when you get those hits, you come through, it's a great feeling," said Headley. "I think obviously tonight it was about the guys before me."

Chris Young began the ninth with a single to center, and Richardson stole second base three pitches later as a pinch-runner. After two unsuccessful bunt attempts, Brett Gardner connected on the third, moving Richardson to third base and setting up the heroics that sent the remainder of the 34,279 into a frenzy.

It was needed when Shawn Kelley inherited and then blew a two-run lead in the eighth inning, leaving a two-strike fastball in the hitting zone of Jose Bautista, who got just enough to send it over the left-field wall, tying the game.

Before that, the Yankees had little success against Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey. Stephen Drew opened the Yankees' scoring with a two-out RBI double to right in the fifth inning. An inning later, Jeter, playing in the final homestand of his career, provided some momentary eruption, turning on a 3-1 fastball and putting his fourth home run of the year -- his first at Yankee Stadium this season -- several rows deep in left.

"This is not an easy game to play," said Jeter, who entered the game in a 1-for-30 funk. "Obviously, this year up to this point hasn't turned out how I would have liked it to, but you've got to keep fighting, you've got to keep battling. I'm going to play hard until we're out of games."

"He has that ability," Girardi said of Jeter's dramatics. "He's a guy you want up with the game on the line in big situations and he's always had that ability."

Yankees righty Shane Greene, meanwhile, provided another solid outing and continued his impressive rookie campaign, shutting down the Blue Jays over 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out six. It was particularly impressive considering his early labors.

Reyes led off the game with a 10-pitch at-bat, and Greene had trouble finding his location while navigating the first several outs, amassing 46 pitches through the first two innings. Then he shifted gears. The righty used nearly the same number -- 45 pitches -- to get through the next four innings before Dellin Betances relieved him to escape a two-out threat.

"I like to say I have a lot of confidence in myself," said Greene. "I've been trying to prove it to myself and everybody else at the same time."

Greene, 25, of course, was never meant to be part of the Yankees' 2014 rotation plans. Neither, technically, was David Phelps nor Brandon McCarthy. But even if this season doesn't extend into October, the Yankees, with veteran Hiroki Kuroda off the books, have to at least consider Greene as an important piece for next year's pitching staff.

"This young man's got four pitches that he can go to," said Girardi. "[He] has confidence in them and has the ability to throw strikes. He's been impressive to me."

CC Sabathia will return next season still harboring permanent knee issues, but the Yankees have had the benefit to see what some of their younger pitchers might be able to provide in his absence. For a team that has consistently fielded veteran players, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, McCarthy, and likely one of either Greene or Phelps should bring both some youth and confidence.

But for now, the Yankees can exhale, still reaching for a playoff spot as they came out on top in the type of game they've seen go against them too many times in the last week.

"Any way you can win," said Jeter. "I don't know how many extra-inning games I have left in me, so I'm happy we won."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["walkoff" ] }
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{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Jeter thanks fans in special commercial, then homers

Yankees captain begins final homestand by hitting first blast in the Bronx this season

Jeter thanks fans in special commercial, then homers play video for Jeter thanks fans in special commercial, then homers

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's final homestand will be met with many emotional goodbyes from fans over the next week. But before he even made it to the ballpark Thursday, a Gatorade commercial anticipating and celebrating the Yankees captain's farewell already had made its way onto the Internet.

The black-and-white ad follows Jeter on his way to the ballpark and watches him walk the last few blocks to Yankee Stadium. He greets some kids, stops by Stan's Sports Bar and soon gets engulfed by fans near the gates before eventually tipping his cap in uniform outside the dugout.

All of it was choreographed to Frank Sinatra's "My Way," a song Jeter says he picked out himself.

"I've always liked the song," said Jeter, who said Sinatra was an easy choice. "I thought it was fitting, I thought it fit for what I'm going through. I'm happy we used it.

"It was an opportunity for me to thank people, which I've been pretty consistent with every time I've spoken is how much the fans have meant to me my entire career. It's sort of a way to thank them for what they've meant to me. It was a fun experience. It didn't take long, probably 30 minutes at most."

Jeter then thanked the fans with his bat Thursday night in a way he hadn't the entire season. In the sixth inning of the Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays, he turned on a 3-1 fastball from starter R.A. Dickey and placed it several rows deep in left field. It was his fourth homer of the year, and first at Yankee Stadium.

"I always look for a fastball," said Jeter. "I've faced [Dickey] quite a bit. He mixes them in once in a while. I wasn't surprised by it, but it was a big hit for us at the time and I'm glad we were able to hang on there."

Manager Joe Girardi predicted that Yankee Stadium would be a great atmosphere, providing "standing ovation after standing ovation." That proved to be true after Jeter's big knock, part of a two-hit performance. Fans erupted trying to coax a curtain call, but Jeter didn't want to upstage the middle of Brian McCann's at-bat.

"It's another game," said Jeter. "I'm trying not to think about it being the last homestand. We still have a week left. We're trying to win games, and I'm going to go out there and play hard like I've done my entire career until we're out of games.

"I hear it from the fans, and opposing players, managers, coaches, but while we're playing the games, I'm trying to help us win."

After the game, Girardi admitted he wasn't surprised how Jeter began his final string of games at home, acknowledging the difficulty in staying focused on the game amidst the constant chatter of his farewell.

"I'm sure he's trying to soak this up as much as he can," said Girardi. "It's really difficult to take the uniform off. He understands what's coming. It's a big change in life for him, but he loves to play so much that I'm sure it's difficult as well."

As has been the case the whole season, making sure Jeter is in the lineup often is something Girardi is wary of, especially as he plays the final seven home games of his career. Girardi said he will take it day by day and "probably DH him some." After nights like Thursday, it will be hard to keep him on the bench.

"He's a guy you want up with the game on the line in big situations and he's always had that ability," Girardi said.

Girardi didn't mention his plans for how he will handle honoring Jeter during his last home game against the Orioles on Sept. 25. But like last year's farewell to Mariano Rivera, there likely won't be an opportunity for Jeter to extend his goodbye into October.

"I think that's probably really strange for Derek, and as hard as last year was for him, this will probably be harder," said Girardi. "I know our chances aren't great, but as long as there's a chance, we have to keep doing what we need to do to win, and that's what he would want, too."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Beltran available off the bench for Yankees

Beltran available off the bench for Yankees play video for Beltran available off the bench for Yankees

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran wasn't in the Yankees' clubhouse and didn't take batting practice with the team before Thursday's game against the Blue Jays, but manager Joe Girardi said he was available to play off the bench.

Beltran flew back to New York after Monday's game against the Rays in St. Petersburg to tend to his wife, who he later announced Wednesday had a miscarriage, resulting in the loss of their son.

"He will be here tonight," said Girardi. "He's not in the lineup but he's available. I've spoken to him every day, but he will be here."

On Wednesday night, as part of his difficult announcement, Beltran expressed his thanks for the love and gratitude he received over Facebook. Girardi said Beltran could take as much time to grieve and recover as he needed.

"My heart goes out to him and his family," said Girardi. "When guys go through this ... I think sometimes people think we're immune to problems because we're professional athletes, but we deal with things on an everyday basis and go through issues, too. That's the most difficult part. I just want to get a temperature of where he's at when he comes in here today, and I'll go from there."

Worth noting
Masahiro Tanaka threw another bullpen session Thursday and reported no problems as he gets ready to return to the mound on Sunday for the first time since July 8.

Francisco Cervelli was behind the plate for just the second time since he started experiencing cluster migraines at the beginning of September.

"It's not easy," said Girardi. "It's one thing to not play for a few days or a week, but to be out for [14 days], it's difficult to have your timing down."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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A clean win: McCarthy leads Yankees in St. Pete

Immaculate inning caps starter's strong outing as tensions are eased

A clean win: McCarthy leads Yankees in St. Pete play video for A clean win: McCarthy leads Yankees in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG -- One night after both benches emptied into a frenzy of finger-pointing and shouting following an errant pitch that drilled Derek Jeter, the Yankees and Rays followed the leads of their respective managers on Wednesday as cooler tempers prevailed.

There was no spillover from the previous evening's incidents, just clean ball, and Brandon McCarthy wrapped up seven strong frames with an immaculate inning as the Yankees defeated Tampa Bay, 3-2, snapping a three-game losing streak. They remained six games back in the American League Wild Card race.

"I don't like when those things keep carrying over day after day," McCarthy said. "Most of it, it's the checks and balances of baseball. It's protect your teammates, and once that's done, then everybody knows the score and you move on from there and it's back to baseball."

There was a hit by pitch early in Wednesday's game, as Chris Young was plunked in the fifth inning by Rays starter Alex Cobb -- the sixth Yankee hit in the team's last six games against Tampa Bay -- but it was with an 80-mph breaking ball, so no warning was warranted.

"Great ballgame on both sides," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm glad it was a baseball game only, and I thought they deserved to win. They pitched really well."

Jeter, an area resident since 1994, walked off as a winner in his final game at Tropicana Field. With just 11 more regular-season games remaining, Jeter snapped an 0-for-28 skid with a sixth-inning single; it marked the second-longest drought of Jeter's career, trailing only a run of 32 hitless at-bats in 2004.

"I'm 1-for-my-last-2, guys. I'm hot," Jeter said. "It felt good, man. I'm well aware of what's going on. At the same time, you try to forget about anything that's happened up to that point. Those stretches aren't fun. Going through it, it's difficult because you're trying to get a hit but you can't control where it goes."

Evan Longoria hit a fourth-inning homer and knocked home the Rays' second run with a sixth-inning groundout, but McCarthy and the bullpen held the line to mark just Cobb's second loss to New York in 10 career starts.

Dellin Betances struck out two batters in a scoreless eighth inning, giving him 132 strikeouts this year to shatter Mariano Rivera's single-season franchise record of 130 strikeouts by a reliever, set in 1996.

"I just think about the whole year and how everything has gone," Betances said. "I definitely feel honored, especially to be part of this group and part of this organization."

Betances recorded the milestone punchout by getting Kevin Kiermaier to flail at a curveball, then froze David DeJesus looking at another hook to strand the potential tying run at third base. David Robertson pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 37th save.

McCarthy permitted two runs and four hits in a 91-pitch performance -- including striking out the side on nine pitches in his final inning.

"I think his sinker's been really good, and I think his curveball has been really effective," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think that he gets some strikes with it, and he puts some guys away with it, and I think it's been really effective."

The Yankees produced three runs in six innings against Cobb, taking the lead in the fifth inning.

Chase Headley, who was sidelined last week by a Jake McGee fastball that hit his chin in the Bronx and sent him to a local hospital, got some measure of revenge by roping a double up the gap in left-center field to chase home Young with the first Yankees run.

"This guy is a gamer," Girardi said. "For him to be back the next day after all he went through, he showed his teammates a lot. Obviously he showed us a lot. Diving all over the place, a huge hit tonight. He's something else."

Brendan Ryan gave New York the lead with a ground-rule double to right field. The Yankees loaded the bases with none out in the sixth but managed just one run despite making Cobb throw 39 pitches in the inning, with three walks.

Brett Gardner made a bid for a grand slam, but his deep fly ball to right field was pulled in with a leaping grab by Wil Myers on the warning track, leaving the Yankees to settle for a sacrifice fly. Given their difficulties scoring runs lately, that wasn't so bad.

Now the Yankees return home to the Bronx, where the focus will be on Jeter's final homestand wearing pinstripes -- a reality that Jeter is not allowing to sink in.

"Not yet. Maybe when we get there," Jeter said. "Right now, I'm just happy we won a game and I got a hit. I'm trying to enjoy it. It feels good."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Betances breaks Mo's single-season K's mark by reliever

Betances breaks Mo's single-season K's mark by reliever play video for Betances breaks Mo's single-season K's mark by reliever

ST. PETERSBURG -- Dellin Betances was only 8 years old when Mariano Rivera burst on the scene as John Wetteland's elite setup man, and the flame-throwing reliever couldn't be more honored to be mentioned in the all-time saves leader's company.

After recording two strikeouts in his scoreless eighth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field, Betances owns the Yankees' single-season strikeout mark for relievers, breaking Rivera's 1996 record of 130.

"Just to be mentioned around his name, you're talking about the best closer, the best reliever in the game," said Betances, who has fanned 132 batters in 87 2/3 innings this season. "Just to be around the same breath as him, I take thrill in that."

Betances fanned Kevin Kiermaier with an 85-mph curveball for his 131st of the season, breaking the tie with Rivera. Betances also froze David DeJesus looking at an 86-mph curveball to end the inning, stranding pinch-runner Brandon Guyer at third base representing the tying run.

"I'm still trying not to let that run score obviously, because we're only up one run at the time," Betances said. "I tried to stay focused. I'm just honored and thrilled. I'm kind of speechless, just because it's incredible, everything that's happened to me."

Bumped to the bullpen after struggling as a starting-pitching prospect, Betances made the team this year after a stellar spring and was selected as an American League All-Star.

"You think about the people that he passed these past few weeks: Goose Gossage and Mariano Rivera," manager Joe Girardi said. "One Hall of Famer and one just has to wait his turn, basically. It's pretty impressive what he's done."

It was pointed out that Betances broke the record in 20 fewer innings than the 107 2/3 that Rivera pitched in '96, but Betances shrugged off that statistic.

"As far as innings, like I said before, he did it with one pitch -- so I think that's more amazing," Betances said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Beltran takes leave after wife's miscarriage

Beltran takes leave after wife's miscarriage

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees have offered their condolences to Carlos Beltran and his wife, Jessica, who announced on Wednesday evening that a miscarriage has resulted in the loss of their first son.

"Life took away the blessing of having my first boy," Beltran wrote on his Facebook page in Spanish. "I believe in God and I am thankful for all His many blessings, like my beautiful family, friends, fans and career.

"Everything happens and will happen according to God's perfect timing, and my wife and I accept it that way. Thank you for all the love and messages."

Beltran returned to New York after Monday's game at Tropicana Field to attend to what manager Joe Girardi had described as a family issue. Girardi said that Beltran would be permitted to take as much time away from the team as he needs.

Yankees captain Derek Jeter said on Wednesday that he reached out to Beltran and spoke to him briefly.

"It puts things in perspective," Jeter said. "We're here playing a game and we're trying to win games, but the bottom line, family is much more important than anything that happens on a baseball field. Your thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, but that's terrible. I feel bad for him.

"He should take as much time as he needs. I don't know how much time that's going to be, but he should. I can't imagine how he feels. Like I said, it puts things in perspective. We sit around here and we talk about guys struggling and people being frustrated and teams losing. When something like that happens, you pretty much forget about the game."

The Beltrans have been married since 1999 and have two daughters, Ivana and Kiara.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

McCarthy caps strong start with immaculate inning

Starter fifth Yankee, first since last May, to fan three batters on nine pitches

McCarthy caps strong start with immaculate inning play video for McCarthy caps strong start with immaculate inning

ST. PETERSBURG -- It had been a good seventh inning, Brandon McCarthy thought as he returned to the visiting dugout on Wednesday. It wasn't until later that he learned it had actually been an immaculate one.

The right-hander achieved the rare feat of nine pitches, nine strikes and three strikeouts in his final inning of work, finishing his workload on a high note in the Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

"I actually didn't realize what it was until I got inside and I saw what it was on the broadcast," McCarthy said. "I was just happy it was three strikeouts, but I didn't realize what kind of an inning it was."

McCarthy fanned Wil Myers, Nick Franklin and Matt Joyce, all swinging, and finished the night with four strikeouts total. It was the first immaculate inning by a Yankees pitcher since Ivan Nova on May 29, 2013, against the Mets.

"In the seventh inning, I wanted to focus on keeping my head on the ball, staying closed, and I just felt like all of a sudden I had a bit more velocity -- a little bit extra in there," McCarthy said. "So it was just focus on throwing strikes, and then at the end of the at-bats I was able to get some four-seamers by guys."

It was the second immaculate inning at Tropicana Field this season, joining the Rays' Brad Boxberger, who did it on May 8 against the Orioles. McCarthy is the fifth Yankee to achieve the feat, joining Nova, A.J. Burnett (2009), Ron Guidry (1984) and Al Downing (1967), according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"It's something else you can add to your resume when you're done, and a story you can tell someone that they won't care about later on," McCarthy joked. "But at least in the meantime it's something cool."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Managing wrist pain, Teixeira back in action

Yankees first baseman returns quicker than expected after treatment

Managing wrist pain, Teixeira back in action play video for Managing wrist pain, Teixeira back in action

ST. PETERSBURG -- One day after telling Mark Teixeira to "come see me when you're ready to return," Joe Girardi heard a knock on the visiting manager's door at Tropicana Field. The response was quicker than initial impressions might have suggested.

Teixeira said that his sore right wrist improved markedly after receiving treatment, and so the first baseman declared himself ready to return to the Yankees' lineup on Wednesday against the Rays.

"We spent all day yesterday trying to get the inflammation out, and I think we were semi-successful, so good enough to play today," Teixeira said.

The wrist has been bothering Teixeira since the end of the Yankees' most recent homestand; Teixeira entered play on Wednesday with two hits in 14 at-bats (.143) on this road trip, but the discomfort increased after Monday's game.

"It just progressively got worse," Teixeira said. "Unfortunately I can't have any more cortisone shots this year, I've already had two, so we just have to manage it the rest of the year. It's manageable, but yesterday was important just to get the inflammation out of there."

Teixeira was limited to just 15 games last season and had surgery to repair a partially torn ECU tendon sheath; Girardi has expressed hope that a full offseason of rest will help Teixeira bounce back, just as Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays and David Ortiz of the Red Sox eventually saw their production improve after similar wrist procedures.

"Absolutely. That's what was expected all year," Teixeira said. "I was fully expecting to have some bumps. This season, I can't really be that disappointed with the wrist. When it's flared up, we've dealt with it. Take a few days off here and there, get a shot here and there when you need it. But it's structurally sound. That's the most important thing. If it gets sore every now and then, you deal with it."

Teixeira got off to a decent start this season, batting .241 with 17 homers, 48 RBIs and an .805 on-base plus slugging percentage in 73 games. His production fell off sharply following the All-Star break, after which he has posted a .179 average with four homers and 10 RBIs in 42 games.

He said that not being able to work out regularly this past offseason, when his focus was on rehab, has left him feeling fatigued since the All-Star break.

"It didn't help. I need to get stronger," Teixeira said. "This second half has been brutal. I just hit a wall. I need to get a lot stronger, so this offseason is going to be important for that because I'm definitely not where I want to be physically.

"... I didn't have a normal offseason. That's tough, but it is what it is. I had to rehab all offseason, but the wrist is structurally sound, and from all indications it shouldn't be a problem next year."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Chin music: Maddon, Headley spar over HBP

Rays skipper clarifies wording after Yanks third baseman takes exception

Chin music: Maddon, Headley spar over HBP play video for Chin music: Maddon, Headley spar over HBP

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon loves to go into the dictionary to talk about baseball, but Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field, Yankees third baseman Chase Headley wasn't happy about the words Maddon came up with.

Last week, Headley was hit in the chin by a fastball from Tampa Bay flamethrower Jake McGee, and he didn't return to the lineup until Monday's series opener at The Trop. But in Tuesday night's 6-1 Rays victory -- after Derek Jeter was hit by a Steve Geltz pitch, which led to three Yankees ejections and a benches-clearing incident -- Maddon referenced Headley's injury by saying, "I'm so happy Headley's fine after being grazed in the chin -- I was very happy to see that he was back and playing again."

A teammate passed the "grazed" comment on to Headley, who didn't appreciate it, as he made clear before Wednesday's series finale.

"I'm just going to hope that that's what happened, that it was a poor choice of words, because that certainly wasn't the case," Headley said. "I was pretty lucky, the way that it turned out, but I don't think that it's fair to be minimized or kind of downplayed in how this all went."

When Maddon heard of Headley's reaction, he tried to clarify his intent, saying he didn't mean to make light of Headley's injury, only to express that it did not turn out to be more serious.

"It's all about semantics. If he's offended by the word 'grazed,' I apologize for that -- I didn't mean it in any lack-of-respectful way," Maddon said. "My point was, I was happy he was not hit more squarely and hurt on a more permanent basis. Like, for instance, what happened to [Giancarlo] Stanton recently. ... If I offended him by using the wrong word, my point was the fact that he was not hurt more seriously."

Asked if he had another word to describe what happened to Headley in hindsight, Maddon went with, "Hit-in-the-chin."

Stanton was hit in the face by a pitch on the same day as Headley, in the Marlins' game against the Brewers, and had to be removed from the field on a stretcher. His season, unlike Headley's, is over. That may be why Maddon didn't completely back away from choosing the word "grazed" on Wednesday.

"Well, I was really happy that he wasn't hit flush," Maddon said. "If he was, he wouldn't be playing yesterday."

That also didn't sit well with Headley.

"I can tell you what the doctor said and what I went through. I think that speaks for itself," Headley said. "He said it was a miracle that my jaw didn't shatter. That's his term."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi recalled how "scary" the moment was when Headley got hit, noting that it could have ruined his career and that Headley is still dealing with the effects of the injury.

But Headley said he did at least understand Maddon's intentions, although he disagreed with the semantics.

"Yeah, I don't think there was ill intent as far as being like, 'I wish it would have been worse' or anything," Headley said. "I don't think that. I just think that when you have what's going on in the context of that happening, you've got to be careful.

"It could be construed as minimizing what happened in context to how everything else is going. If Evan Longoria got hit like that, or Ben Zobrist or one of their guys, he wouldn't use that term."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Reflections: Jeter a part of Rays' own stories

Maddon, players remember special moments in interaction with Yanks captain

Reflections: Jeter a part of Rays' own stories play video for Reflections: Jeter a part of Rays' own stories

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have been there for Derek Jeter's moments, of course. There've been plenty over his 20-year MLB career -- like when he hammered a home run off Tampa Bay ace David Price for his 3,000th hit. But Jeter's been there for the Rays' moments, too.

When Jeter and the Yankees came to Tropicana Field for his final series in St. Pete -- Wednesday's finale was his last game at The Trop -- several Rays recalled Jeter's appearances in their own career paths, not only their appearances in his.

There was Joe Maddon's first game managing a Major League team, as the interim manager for the Angels in 1996, when No. 2 was the opposing shortstop.

"My first interim manager game was against the Yankees in '96, when [Angels manager] John McNamara got sick," Maddon said. "I believe we won, but that's not the story. The point is, his first at-bat, [Jeter] comes up as the leadoff hitter and hits a home run. I remember that very distinctly."

There was a welcome-to-the-big-leagues moment for Ben Zobrist, who's the longest-tenured Ray but would have to be tenured a while longer to approach Jeter's run with New York.

"I can remember one of the first ground balls I ever hit to Derek in New York, in the hole, and that's been a hit my whole career coming up through the Minor Leagues and anybody else I've ever played against," Zobrist said. "And next thing I know, the ball beat me to first base."

And there was a milestone for closer Jake McGee. In 2010, Jeter became the flamethrowing lefty's first career out when McGee struck out the Yankees captain with the bases loaded on Sept. 14.

"That was my first out in the big leagues," McGee said. "My debut, I couldn't feel what I was doing, really, because of just so many jitters and nerves and stuff going on. But just to get him out ..."

These days, McGee throws almost exclusively fastballs. That day, he started Jeter off with a curveball for a called strike one. "I was so surprised I threw it for a strike," he said.

Now, McGee's velocity sits in the mid- to upper-90s. Not so when he caught Jeter back then.

"It was a fastball down and in," McGee said. "It was, like, 93 [mph] or something like that. I wasn't throwing that hard."

Knowing it was McGee's first Major League strikeout, during the Rays' next trip to New York, Jeter sent him an autographed bat wishing McGee the best. McGee still has it.

Jeter, for his part, recognizes the sheer amount of baseball he's been a part of over the past two decades.

"This is parts of 20 seasons here, but it's parts of 23 professionally," Jeter said. "I've been doing this longer than I haven't been doing this.

"As some of the older players used to say when I was coming up, it's time to let someone else play, you know?"

The thing is, Jeter's been involved with those "someone elses" playing -- like Maddon, Zobrist, McGee and the other Rays -- all along. It's just that now, they'll be playing without Jeter in the other dugout.

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }
{"content":["replay" ] }

Call quickly overturned after Rays' challenge

Tampa Bay shortstop Zobrist makes fine play to get Yanks' Young at first

Call quickly overturned after Rays' challenge play video for Call quickly overturned after Rays' challenge

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays challenged a call in the eighth inning Wednesday night and won before falling to the Yankees, 3-2, in the series finale at Tropicana Field.

With two outs in the eighth, Yankees outfielder Chris Young hit a ball to the hole that Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist backhanded then skipped across the infield to first baseman James Loney.

First-base umpire Marty Foster called Young safe, which prompted a visit from Rays manager Joe Maddon, who promptly challenged the call.

Thirty seconds later, the umpires overturned the ruling on the field, which translated to the third out and the end of the eighth.

The Rays have had 46 challenges this season. Of those, 20 have been overturned, 13 have stood and 13 have been confirmed.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["replay" ] }

Coffee clutch: Jeter maintains rigid daily routine

Coffee clutch: Jeter maintains rigid daily routine play video for Coffee clutch: Jeter maintains rigid daily routine

ST. PETERSBURG -- The scene has played out countless times in stadiums across the country; you can almost set your watch to it. About three hours before the scheduled first pitch, Derek Jeter walks into the clubhouse, a coffee cup nestled in his right hand.

The Yankees captain approaches the laptop computer set up for ticket requests, punches in a few names, slings a pair of white sanitary socks over his shoulder and begins to prepare for the nine innings ahead. While he does, Jeter's java is a constant companion.

"I'm just a creature of habit, you know what I'm saying?" Jeter said. "Everything I do is pretty much a routine. I wouldn't say I'm superstitious; it's not like if I don't have it, I'm flipping out. But I'm a creature of habit, I guess is the best way to put it."

As he speaks at his locker, a grande cup bearing the Starbucks siren logo is cooling nearby. On this day, it contains a "Red Eye," coffee with an espresso shot added for some extra kick. Two sugars, no cream.

"I've got the same routine. I don't need to try to break it," Jeter said, before offering a slight grin. "Well, I guess I'll have to -- fairly soon."

We go back to the afternoon of Aug. 23, 2011, just after 3 p.m., and Jeter is walking out of a Starbucks location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His day has been uninterrupted by the rare minor earthquake that rattled windows and nerves around the island.

Jeter pays his tab, hops into the sport utility vehicle parked along First Avenue and completes the rest of the short commute to Yankee Stadium from his condominium in the Trump World Tower. He'll get three hits that night against the Athletics.

Inside the coffee shop, someone comments that the last customer plays shortstop for the Yankees. A mid-30s woman wearing business attire looks up from her iPhone, offers a slight nod and grunt, then returns to scrolling through her Facebook feed. An older gentleman sitting near the counter seems similarly nonchalant.

"A lot of times, I go to the same places, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "A lot of times, it's the same people working. People get used to seeing me."

The sheer volume of Starbucks locations makes it Jeter's go-to.

"I don't really have to seek it out," he said. "I pretty much know where it is. They're all over the place."

It is now Tuesday, and Jeter has 13 games remaining in his farewell season. A parking lot dotted with palm trees sits in a trendy neighborhood of Tampa, Fla., making an easy stop between Jeter's Davis Islands home and Tropicana Field.

Under the green outdoor awning, women in dresses and men in T-shirts chat over lattes, while inside, the rhythmic clicking of MacBook keyboards meshes with a funky Marvin Gaye classic. The mention of Jeter's name triggers recognition, but not excitement.

"He comes in here fairly regularly," said Christine Sanchez, a 22-year-old Tampa resident working her barista shift. "He sits outside with his friends. People are pretty nonchalant about it. I think that's why he comes here, because he can relax."

She also offers this caveat: "I'm not a Yankees fan. [Rays manager] Joe Maddon comes in a lot, too."

"We never walk into the counter together at the same time," Maddon said earlier this year. "We don't call in advance. So he's normally sitting outside with Gerald Williams, who's also a great guy. So I just walk by, give the quick nod, quick conversation."

Usually, the baristas don't ask for his name, though last year Jeter departed a Greenwich Village outlet with "Philip" scrawled on the side of his cup -- an event caught by a New York Post photographer.

In response, then-teammate Phil Hughes playfully shared an Instagram picture of his own iced coffee order bearing Jeter's middle name, Sanderson.

"The first time I was ever in that one is when they asked for a name," Jeter said, with a sigh. "I guess I must've said Philip, and then when I went back in, there they just wrote it on there. I didn't know it was on there. I don't remember; I was probably in there with a friend of mine. Slow news day."

Sanchez confirms that Jeter often orders a "Red Eye," but he alters his order on occasion. She said that with his retirement approaching, their location "probably" will be taking many more of his orders soon.

"I really wasn't a coffee drinker," Jeter said. "When I was younger, I just never really liked the taste of it. So it started with those iced drinks with the chocolate chips in it. Now it's just black coffee, a little bit of sugar, no cream. I'm turning into my dad, I think."

It may seem surprising that after 20 years in the big leagues, Jeter still can slip in and out of a public place without being delayed. But the baseball schedule generally lets him avoid early-morning and lunchtime crushes, and so this has become arguably the most regular part of his day.

Time it right, and you just might see a five-time World Series winner in line with construction workers, police officers, nurses or high school students. To borrow a line from a popular magazine: Stars, they're just like us, indeed.

"I've met a lot of people, taken a lot of pictures, but I'm not complaining by any stretch of the imagination," Jeter said. "I'm a homebody, so that's why a lot of times if you see pictures, it's usually me with a Starbucks cup in my hand, most of the time."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yanks' frustrations boil over in loss to Rays

Girardi among three ejections; bats silenced after early run

Yanks' frustrations boil over in loss to Rays play video for Yanks' frustrations boil over in loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- It would have taken a historic charge for the Yankees to keep their playoff dreams alive late into the month, a surge that never seemed close to materializing. All that is left now is the frustration of a fading season.

That realization boiled over in the form of a benches-clearing incident on Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi, pitcher David Phelps and bench coach Tony Pena were all ejected as the Yankees dropped a 6-1 decision to the Rays at Tropicana Field, their fifth loss in the last six games.

"I think our team as a whole is frustrated about a whole lot of stuff right now," said Phelps, who was tossed after firing a fastball high and tight in the eighth inning. "You guys have been watching the last two, three weeks, what we've been doing. It's a frustrating game."

The Yankees seemed most incensed by an eighth-inning Steve Geltz fastball that drilled Derek Jeter's left hand, marking the fifth time that a Yankees hitter has been hit in the club's last five meetings with Tampa Bay.

Girardi was tossed by home-plate umpire Rob Drake after storming out of the dugout and pointing toward Geltz, holding up five fingers before returning to the dugout and firing a clipboard in anger down the dugout runway.

"I'm tired of my guys getting hit, and where they're getting hit -- I'm tired of it," Girardi said. "You're going to pitch inside, learn to pitch inside. You pitch down in the zone. You don't pitch up. This is not practice. This is guys' livelihood."

The Rays, under manager Joe Maddon, have stressed the importance of pitching up in the strike zone this season. Last week in New York, Chase Headley was hit twice -- including once in the chin by a 97-mph fastball -- while Jeter and Brian McCann were also plunked.

"You shouldn't be in the big leagues if you keep doing that consistently," Headley said. "Guys are throwing too hard, with too good of stuff. Granted, I know balls get away every now and then. I get it. But it can't keep happening."

Maddon insisted that none of the five hit-by-pitches has been intentional.

"We don't want to hit Derek," Maddon said. "I'm so happy Headley's fine after getting grazed in the chin. I was very happy that he was back and playing again. I understand the frustration. I get it totally."

Jeter, who was honored by the Rays in a pregame ceremony that he called "very, very nice," stayed in the game and said that his left hand was fine. He finished 0-for-2 and is hitless in his last 26 at-bats.

"Ask any team in baseball, ask any player in baseball -- no one likes to get hit," Jeter said. "If it happens a lot, yeah, you get frustrated. Hopefully this is over with and done with, and let's play the games."

Phelps' second pitch of the next half-inning was up and in on Kevin Kiermaier. That prompted Drake to toss the right-hander as well as Pena, the acting manager, before both benches and bullpens cleared.

"There was a lot of commotion," Phelps said. "The next thing I know, their guys start coming out. It's part of baseball. It happens. I'm sure we'll come out and play nine innings tomorrow. The day is going to turn over."

In the ninth inning, the Yankees also noted an inside Kirby Yates pitch that forced John Ryan Murphy to jump out of the way. Even though both clubs had been warned, the game continued without further incident.

"What's the difference in the ball that Yates threw that almost hit Murph?" Girardi said. "You're playing judge and jury and God in talking about intent."

The Yankees were also irked by a controversial call in Tampa Bay's four-run seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, pinch-hitter Wil Myers hit a deep drive to center field that Jacoby Ellsbury reeled in with a terrific diving grab near the warning track.

Evan Longoria and James Loney both raced home on the play, but Girardi contended that Loney left early from second base. Tag-ups are not reviewable according to replay rules, but second-base umpire Alan Porter said Loney waited long enough, leaving the play as a two-run sacrifice fly.

"I'll ask Major League Baseball why it's not reviewable, because it's hard to watch both [the catch and the tag]," Girardi said. "[Porter] said he clearly saw it. I don't know how you can clearly see both. I really don't."

Michael Pineda started for the Yankees and held Tampa Bay to two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings, too much for a New York lineup that has produced only seven runs in the last six games. Two errors led to an unearned run in the fifth; Brendan Ryan bounced a throw and Pineda bobbled a flip from McCann, the first baseman.

In the sixth, an overturned call at third base placed runners at the corners, setting up Yunel Escobar's safety squeeze to push home Nick Franklin with the go-ahead run off Pineda, who permitted four hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Chris Young knocked a second-inning double and scored on an Ichiro Suzuki single for the only Yankees run off Jake Odorizzi, who held New York to five hits over six innings with a walk and three strikeouts. It marked the 12th start this season in which Odorizzi has permitted one run or fewer.

The Yankees and Rays conclude their season series on Wednesday with a game that will have little effect on the standings, but it would be wise for both benches -- and the umpiring crew -- to be on high alert for any possible spillover.

"I know that emotions are high, so I can't say whether something's going to happen or not," Headley said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Girardi, Phelps, Pena ejected; benches clear

Yanks' manager tossed after plunking of Jeter; retaliatory pitch escalates feud

Girardi, Phelps, Pena ejected; benches clear play video for Girardi, Phelps, Pena ejected; benches clear

ST. PETERSBURG -- A game that started with a ceremony honoring Derek Jeter ended with three Yankees ejections and a benches-clearing incident.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was tossed in the top of the eighth inning of Tuesday's 6-1 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field after Jeter was hit on the left hand by Rays reliever Steve Geltz. Acting manager Tony Pena, the Yankees' bench coach, was ejected a half-inning later, as was reliever David Phelps, when Phelps sent a fastball under Kevin Kiermaier's chin and to the backstop. Both dugouts and bullpens cleared.

"I'm tired of it," Girardi said. "I'm tired of my guys getting hit, and where they're getting hit. I'm tired of it. You're going to pitch inside, learn to pitch inside. You pitch down in the zone. You don't pitch up. … This is not practice. This is guys' livelihood."

The Yankees have endured five hit-by-pitches in the club's last five games against the Rays, dating to their series at Yankee Stadium last week. Among those plunked were Jeter, who was hit on the left elbow by Brad Boxberger last week, and Chase Headley, who was hit on the chin by a Jake McGee pitch.

"It's always frustrating any time you get hit," Jeter said. "You understand it's part of the game, but yeah, it's frustrating when guys continually get hit. ... They were frustrated when they almost got hit, so I'm sure there's frustration on both sides."

Girardi was a little more than frustrated, though.

"I'm all for pitching inside, but you've got to know how to pitch inside because it's extremely dangerous," Girardi said. "Chase Headley's lucky. He's lucky he's OK. I don't know what they expect."

Even Rays manager Joe Maddon said he couldn't fault Girardi and the Yankees for being upset.

"I really don't blame the Yankees for being upset right there," Maddon said. "We've hit a couple of their guys -- obviously none of it intentional. But again, I understand the frustration. I get it totally."

After the game, Maddon echoed that opinion on Twitter.

"Understand the Yankees frustration, but there was no intent. It's baseball," Maddon tweeted.

Girardi's ejection followed a sequence that began in the bottom of the seventh inning with a tremendous catch by Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. With the bases loaded and one out, Wil Myers drove a ball deep into right-center field that looked like it would clear the bases. But Ellsbury, sprinting back and to his left, made a brilliant diving grab.

Because Ellsbury was so deep in the outfield when he dove, James Loney was able to tag up from second and score, as was Evan Longoria from third. The Yankees appealed the play, believing Loney left early, but Loney was ruled safe and Girardi came out to argue the call. By rule, tag-up appeal plays can't be reviewed. Girardi continued to voice his frustration but was not ejected at that time.

After Jeter was hit in the top of the eighth, though, a fuming Girardi was tossed by home-plate umpire Rob Drake. After Drake warned both dugouts, Girardi came onto the field pointing and yelling at Geltz. Girardi also appeared to exchange words with Longoria, who had come in from third base to support his pitcher.

"I was totally caught off guard," Geltz said. "I felt like [Girardi] of all people should know -- the guy has been around baseball forever -- he should know that's not intentional. … I'm not trying to hit him -- it's Derek Jeter."

Then, in the bottom of the inning, Phelps went up and in on Kiermaier and was immediately ejected by Drake, as was Pena.

"None of their guys got hit, and I got thrown out," Phelps said. "That's one frustrating thing. You guys saw my command the other night -- I was missing glove side a lot. It was just a fastball that got away from me. … I thought you had to hit somebody to get thrown out of the game."

At that point, the benches and bullpens cleared, with players on both sides exchanging words. Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez, who has been in the middle of the Rays' many scrums with the Red Sox this season, had to be held back by members of the Rays' coaching staff.

"I did not want anything to detract from the evening," Maddon said. "I thought our ceremony before the game was outstanding; I thought the gift was great. The last thing you want to do was detract from the evening, and from my perspective in the dugout, I thought it did put a little bit of a nick into it."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tanaka tentatively slated to start on Sunday

Recovering from partially torn UCL, Yankees' ace in line for 70-75 pitches

Tanaka tentatively slated to start on Sunday play video for Tanaka tentatively slated to start on Sunday

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees are planning to hand the ball to Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday against the Blue Jays, clearing the ace right-hander to make his first Major League start since sustaining a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in July.

Tanaka reported no issues after throwing 65 pitches in a simulated game on Monday against instructional league hitters, and the Yankees believe that making a turn or two at the big league level will offer Tanaka some peace of mind as he heads into the offseason.

"More than anything, I want to see if my body is able to go fully on a Major League mound," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "That's by far most important to me. Also, to be able to contribute in the team's win would be something important to me, too."

Tanaka, 25, has not pitched in the big leagues since July 8 in Cleveland, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka will pitch even if Sunday's game is not mathematically meaningful to a postseason chase.

"I kind of took it step by step, getting myself to this point," said Tanaka, who was 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 18 first-half starts. "Yes, I feel that I'm ready to go."

Girardi said that Tanaka will be asked to throw 70-75 pitches against Toronto's lineup.

"I think that's what we've all been waiting to get back to," Girardi said. "He's worked very hard to get back. He's gotten a lot of work done, and we'll see how he holds up."

After the elbow injury, four noted physicians recommended that Tanaka try to rehab the UCL tear rather than undergo Tommy John surgery. It is still possible that Tanaka may eventually require the procedure, but Sunday's outing could offer the Yankees some sense of whether they can count on Tanaka for 2015.

"Even if it's short, if I'm able to go out there and have a strong outing, it'll give me some good confidence," Tanaka said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["clemente_award" ] }

CC nets second Clemente Award nomination

Yankees left-hander recognized for sportsmanship, community involvement

CC nets second Clemente Award nomination play video for CC nets second Clemente Award nomination

ST. PETERSBURG -- CC Sabathia has been announced as the Yankees' nominee for this year's Roberto Clemente Award, presented by Chevrolet. The award recognizes a Major League player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

Each club nominates one player to be considered in an effort to pay tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

Earning his second nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award (2011), Sabathia -- along with his wife, Amber -- established the "PitCCh In" Foundation in 2009. The foundation is committed to the care and needs of inner-city children, while helping to raise self-esteem through sports activities and education.

Since 2009, "PitCCh In" has given more than 15,500 youngsters new backpacks filled with back-to-school essentials in Sabathia's hometown of Vallejo, Calif. Each December since 2011, Sabathia has hosted an annual party for 52 members of the Madison Square Boys & Girls Columbus Clubhouse at the MLB Fan Cave.

In January, Sabathia hosted a "PitCCh In" Foundation ProCamps event for more than 200 children, held on CC Sabathia Field at Vallejo High School. Last offseason, Sabathia also hosted low-income Vallejo teens for a day of bowling and a shopping spree at Nike Town; took part in the 25th Tampa Holiday Concert, where he and his wife read to more than 1,000 children; and held at Central Park the third annual CC Challenge fundraising event, an adventurous three-hour scavenger hunt modeled after "The Amazing Race."

Most recently, Sabathia helped local children ease back into the school year by visiting P.S. 73 in the Bronx on Sept. 5, handing out new backpacks, participating in a question-and-answer session and signing autographs.

Wednesday marks the 13th annual Roberto Clemente Day, which was established by Major League Baseball to honor Clemente's legacy and to officially recognize local club nominees and honor Clemente's legacy. The 15-time Major League All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Beginning Wednesday, fans can vote for the award's national recipient at ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media. Voting ends on Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to next month's World Series. The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel of dignitaries, from which the honoree will be chosen.

The Yankees are scheduled to recognize Sabathia's nomination for this year's Roberto Clemente Award with an on-field ceremony on Friday prior to their 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Blue Jays.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["clemente_award" ] }
{"content":["clemente_award" ] }
{"content":["jeter_farewell" ] }

Zimmer jersey highlights Rays' Jeter tribute

After receiving kayak, Yanks' captain reunites with late baseball icon's wife

Zimmer jersey highlights Rays' Jeter tribute play video for Zimmer jersey highlights Rays' Jeter tribute

ST. PETERSBURG -- Derek Jeter has been a formidable rival for many teams around the league over the years, but there is a different sense of the retiring Yankees captain around these parts. To the Rays, he is also a neighbor.

Jeter's career was acknowledged before Tuesday's 6-1 Rays win over the Yankees, making the longtime Tampa, Fla., resident just the third visiting player honored at Tropicana Field. He joins Cal Ripken Jr. in 2001 and Mariano Rivera last season.

The most meaningful moment for Jeter came at the conclusion of the ceremony. Soot Zimmer, the wife of longtime Yankees coach and Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer, presented Jeter with one of the last jerseys worn by the baseball icon, who passed away on June 4.

"I thought it was awesome that Mrs. Zimmer was out there," Jeter said. "She said a little something before the game that she was going to be out there. It was good to see her."

Accompanied by students from the St. Peter Claver Catholic School in Tampa, Rays senior vice president Mark Fernandez presented Jeter with a $16,000 donation to his Turn 2 Foundation -- a figure that represents $50 for each hit Jeter has recorded against the Rays during his career.

"It was special that they included some of the kids that we work with down here," Jeter said.

Rays director of Minor League operations Mitch Lukevics, who held the same position with the Yankees on Jeter's first day with the organization in 1992, also presented Jeter with a 16-foot Epic sea kayak, painted in Yankees blue with his No. 2 on the back.

"Great kayak, which I'm sure I'll use," Jeter said. "You're laughing, but I'm sure I'll use it."

Jeter was hit on the left hand by an eighth-inning Steve Geltz pitch in the loss, part of a sequence of events that included a benches-clearing incident. Jeter said that what transpired in the game did nothing to spoil the Rays' warm gesture.

"Sometimes these things happen in games, but I thought what they did, what their organization did, was special," Jeter said. "And that's what I'm trying to focus on."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["replay" ] }

Rays successfully challenge out call at third

Ruled safe after review, Franklin races home on next play to snap tie in sixth

Rays successfully challenge out call at third play video for Rays successfully challenge out call at third

ST. PETERSBURG -- Making his Rays debut against the Yankees at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, Nick Franklin took third base on a wild pitch from Michael Pineda with one out in the sixth inning, and his baserunning aggressiveness led to a run -- but only after a replay review. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon successfully challenged what was originally ruled an out, setting up Franklin's dash home on the next play.

With the game tied at 1, Franklin recorded his first hit in a Tampa Bay uniform off Pineda, driving a double into the left-field corner. Facing a full count on the next hitter, Matt Joyce, Pineda bounced ball four in the dirt and off catcher Francisco Cervelli, with the pitch kicking out in front of the plate.

As Joyce trotted to first, Franklin broke for third. Cervelli's throw beat Franklin to the bag, but Franklin came up from his slide vehemently gesticulating that he was safe. That didn't stop third-base umpire Marty Foster from calling Franklin out.

"I mean, I knew I got in before he tagged me -- I knew instantly that I was safe," Franklin said. "I almost didn't get away with it -- I almost got caught, being out at third, which I would've been a little upset about. But it turned out for the better, I guess."

The call, and Franklin's reaction, brought Maddon out of the Rays' dugout to challenge the call. Replays showed that Franklin's foot hit the bag well ahead of third baseman Chase Headley's tag, and after a one-minute, 11-second review, the call was overturned and Franklin was safe.

With runners on first and third, Yunel Escobar dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt along the first-base line. Franklin scored easily, the Yankees had no play on Escobar at first and the Rays took a 2-1 lead en route to a 6-1 victory.

Franklin had a successful debut overall, adding an RBI single in the seventh inning to finish 2-for-4.

"Yeah, it's nice, but more than anything, I want to win," Franklin said. "I was excited to be in there, but it was just about that we got a 'W' at the end of it."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["injury" ] }

Appendectomy ends Prado's season

Versatile infielder hit .282 with 12 homers in 143 games for D-backs, Yanks

Appendectomy ends Prado's season play video for Appendectomy ends Prado's season

ST. PETERSBURG -- The season is ending early for Martin Prado. The multi-skilled veteran infielder and outfielder underwent a successful appendectomy on Tuesday and has been placed on the 60-day disabled list by the Yankees.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Prado experienced discomfort in his stomach all day Monday but played through New York's 1-0 loss to the Rays. Prado went straight from Tropicana Field to a local hospital, where it was determined that he needed surgery.

"I'm not surprised with Prads; I'm not," Girardi said. "He wants to be out there. That's the bottom line, and you play when you're sick ... unless you physically just can't do it, but he felt that he could do it."

Acquired from the D-backs in a July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal, the 30-year-old Prado hit .316 in 37 games after the trade. He played in 143 games between Arizona and New York, batting .282 with a .321 on-base percentage and a .412 slugging mark.

The Yankees signed infielder Jose Pirela to a Major League contract and selected him to the active roster. The 24-year-old Pirela hit .305 in 130 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, appearing at every position except catcher, pitcher and third base.

"We'll try to get him in there," Girardi said of Pirela. "He hasn't done much for two weeks. We'll work him out a couple of days, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't just throw him in there one day."

Prado figures into the Yankees' plans moving forward, though his exact role is as yet undefined. He is under contract through 2016 and was used at second base, third base, left field and right field by the Yankees.

"He's very versatile, swings the bat extremely well," Girardi said. "He's a smart baseball player. There's a lot of things you can talk about. He's tough. He grinds out at-bats. He's a really good player, so I'm looking forward to getting him back. It's a good piece."

Originally signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2001, Prado had his best season with Atlanta in 2010, when he was named to the National League All-Star team after hitting .307 with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Yankees' Wild Card hopes dealt another big blow

Amid hitting woes, NY drops six back as Rays walk off with shutout

Yankees' Wild Card hopes dealt another big blow play video for Yankees' Wild Card hopes dealt another big blow

ST. PETERSBURG -- When Derek Jeter was asked what he would miss about playing at Tropicana Field, he stammered for a few moments before producing a diplomatic response. The Rays, he said, have been fielding good teams for a while and always seem to give his Yankees trouble under the roof.

Outcomes like this, all too familiar in recent years, will not inspire much nostalgia for the retiring captain. Ben Zobrist connected for a game-winning single off Shawn Kelley in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Rays to a 1-0 victory over the Yankees on Monday night.

With Jeter watching from the bench, New York absorbed its fourth loss in five games, officially eliminating them from contention for the American League East title. Now six games out of the Wild Card chase, the Yankees' odds of reaching any level of postseason play are dwindling toward zero.

"I feel like things have been slipping away for a few weeks," Brett Gardner said. "To be honest, I haven't looked at the standings the last couple of days because at this point they don't really matter. We've got to win every day."

The Yankees' scuffling lineup was unable to break through against Alex Colome and four relievers, including Joel Peralta, who pitched a scoreless top half of the ninth for the victory.

New York had just one runner reach third base -- Mark Teixeira, on a second-inning wild pitch -- and there was not much cap-tipping coming out of the visiting clubhouse.

"For whatever reason, we're not hitting," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's frustrating. Eventually I think it's got to turn, but it better turn pretty quickly here."

Kelley took over as the third Bombers pitcher of the evening, trying to force the game into extra innings after Chris Capuano and Adam Warren combined for eight blank frames.

"Every time we pitch, the game's on the line," Kelley said. "I've got to go out there and put up a zero whether it's nothing-nothing or it's 10-nothing."

Logan Forsythe and James Loney knocked one-out singles against Kelley, who recorded a strikeout but then walked pinch-hitter Matt Joyce. That loaded the bases and set up Zobrist's decisive line drive to right field that fell in front of Ichiro Suzuki.

"Obviously we want to [play spoiler]," Zobrist said. "I think we're just trying to win. We're just trying to play the best way we can play and create that winning Rays culture."

The math is bleak; with 13 games remaining on the schedule, the Yankees have 76 wins. It would take a 13-0 run to get to 89, generally thought of as a benchmark for Wild Card clubs. Gardner's frustration was evident as he stared straight ahead from his locker in silent contemplation for several minutes.

"All we needed to get was just one or two runs and we couldn't even get that," Gardner said. "It's just really frustrating. Guys are working really hard. Guys are trying. Guys are putting in the effort. For one reason or another, we're just not getting it done."

Chase Headley's temper also flared, but for a different reason. He returned to the lineup for the first time since being hit in the chin with a 97-mph fastball last week, still sporting some yellow and purple bruising, but his night ended prematurely.

Headley was ejected by home-plate umpire Marty Foster with an 0-1 count on him in the seventh inning; Headley said that Foster had been the aggressor in the situation.

"I'm going to stand up for myself when I feel like I've been wronged, or I feel like a guy is responding to me in a manner that I didn't respond to him," Headley said. "I wish I would've stayed in the game, but on the same token, sometimes you've got to stand up for yourself."

There was, at least, a moral victory for Capuano. One turn after being knocked out in the first inning by the Rays, an outing that he called the worst start of his career, Capuano bounced back by handcuffing the Rays to a pair of hits over six scoreless innings.

"I thought Capuano did a great job moving the ball around," Zobrist said. "He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he really placed it well. That's all it took."

But then again, despite injuries to the majority of their Opening Day rotation, pitching really hasn't been the Yankees' problem -- and it won't be the reason that, in all likelihood, the lights will be dark in the Bronx next month.

"As well as we've pitched, we didn't need to be great, we just needed to be good," Gardner said. "And we haven't been."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Twenty years later, Jeter reflects on move to Tampa

Yanks legend returns to where career began, where he'll live when it's over

Twenty years later, Jeter reflects on move to Tampa play video for Twenty years later, Jeter reflects on move to Tampa

ST. PETERSBURG -- Derek Jeter moved to Tampa, Fla., in 1994 for the sake of improving his budding baseball career.

It's warm enough to work out in the winter, something he couldn't do in his home state of Michigan. It's where the Yankees' Minor League complex was and still is located. The fields on Himes Avenue where Jeter tirelessly worked to improve his fielding as a lanky 18-year-old are the same ones he started working on this January to get ready for Spring Training.

But before the 14 All-Star Games, the five World Series championships and the bay side mansion, Jeter was miserable.

"Just coming here and being extremely homesick, struggling very bad, wondering if I made the right decision, crying every night," Jeter said before Monday night's series opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field. "My first memories here really weren't fond memories, so it's kind of ironic I live here now. When I first came, I thought, 'What am I doing here far away from home?'

"I couldn't wait to leave. But now, this is home for me."

When this season ends, Jeter will hang up his pinstripes and begin life as a retired baseball player here, in Tampa. He's already got a cozy little place set up over on Davis Islands -- that 30,875-square-foot mansion on Hillsborough Bay a few minutes south of downtown, the one often referred to around these parts as "St. Jetersburg."

"I fell in love with this area a long, long time ago," Jeter said. "This is home for me. I don't plan on going anywhere."

With Jeter playing his final series at Tropicana Field, a short drive from his home, it's an appropriate time to look back on what Tampa has meant to Jeter -- and perhaps more important, how much Jeter has meant to Tampa.

*****

The baseball significance is obvious: Jeter's 20-year baseball career began here. He was an 18-year-old kid at the Yankees' Minor League complex on Himes Avenue in Tampa. He played for their Gulf Coast League affiliate and came back in 1994 to play for the Class A Tampa Yankees.

The closer he could be to the Yankees' Minor League facilities and coaches, he thought, the better off he'd become as a player.

"I always thought when I was in the Minor Leagues that if it came down to a decision between myself and another player, I wanted everyone to see how hard I was working," Jeter said. "That's why I moved here, honestly, because of the weather. Michigan's a little colder."

But he spent a lot of time then wondering whether he'd made the right decision to start his professional career, literally crying himself to sleep at night as he struggled for the first time in his baseball life.

"Those were real tears. I didn't show people for a reason," Jeter said. "Anytime you go through struggles and life lessons, I think it helps shape you as a person. Even though those weren't fond memories at the time, I look back at them now and I appreciate it."

What he's done for thousands of kids throughout Tampa since then doesn't get quite the same attention as his highlights on the field or the rumors about his famously private personal life, but it's no less a part of his legacy here.

Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation, designed to motivate young people to choose healthy lifestyles, has programs in western Michigan, where he grew up, and New York. The next logical step was to branch out into Jeter's offseason home of Tampa.

That's why two Hillsborough County students each year receive the Derek Jeter/Hillsborough Education Foundation Scholarship. That's why the Turn 2 Foundation partners with the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department to host a free annual four-day baseball camp. It's why the foundation provides financial assistance for 15 students every year to attend St. Peter Claver Catholic School in Tampa.

And it's why the Derek Jeter Center at Phoenix House exists. It's the foundation's signature program in Tampa, a care provider for at-risk kids with mental health and substance-abuse problems in Hillsborough County. The foundation helps the program bring in motivational speakers and provides tickets to Rays games and Yankees Spring Training games.

Patrick McEneaney, regional director for the Phoenix House, estimated the Derek Jeter Center has successfully helped about 500 kids per year since it opened in 2004, and the entire Jeter family has been "very engaged" in its growth.

"The Jeter foundation has supported us financially every year. Without their contributions, we could never have provided the services that we provide," McEneaney said. "The Jeter foundation has been critical -- that's the only word I can use -- in sustaining those programs in Tampa.

"He certainly has helped a lot more kids than he has hits. And he has a lot of hits."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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In return to lineup, Headley ejected for arguing strike call

Yankees third baseman upset with umpire Foster's zone throughout game

In return to lineup, Headley ejected for arguing strike call play video for In return to lineup, Headley ejected for arguing strike call

ST. PETERSBURG -- There was still fresh evidence of Chase Headley's most recent at-bat before Monday night's game, plainly visible in the yellow and purple bruising that remains from the 97-mph fastball that drilled the Yankees infielder in the chin last week.

Headley made a healthy return to the lineup, but his evening was abbreviated by a verbal spat with home-plate umpire Marty Foster, who ejected him for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh inning of New York's 1-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

"I had a disagreement with a few pitches throughout the game. Nothing serious," Headley said. "I didn't think what I said to him warranted the response that I got, and it just kept going."

It was Headley's third career ejection and his most recent since Aug. 19, 2012, when he was playing for the Padres against the Giants. Headley said his dispute with Foster started during his first plate appearance of the night, in the second inning against Alex Colome.

"The first pitch of the game, I come in, got hit with 97 in the mouth [last week] and the first pitch I see is 95 at my ribs," Headley said. "Then he calls a changeup a foot off the plate and it's like, 'C'mon.' It kind of started me off on the wrong foot.

"The borderline ones you live with, but when there's a pitch that should not be missed, ever, I think that's when as a player you get a little bit more upset. Then as the game went, there were some more borderline calls that kept going the other way and I had enough."

Headley said that in the seventh inning, after taking a called strike from Colome, Foster barked for Headley to return to the box. Headley said something in response and Foster ejected him. Headley was replaced by pinch-hitter Stephen Drew, who popped out to third base.

"I didn't think Chase was showing him up," manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't understand that. It's one thing if you're arguing, you're going back and forth and showing him up, but these games mean something. It's a shame. He questioned some strikes. Hitters should be allowed to do that.

"We should be allowed to do that. At some point, it would be nice if umpires said, 'If you say another thing, you're gone.' You can do that. If he barks and you bark back; it wasn't like a whole lot of people knew what was going on. It's frustrating to me."

David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Facing offseason elbow surgery, Beltran rejoins lineup

Facing offseason elbow surgery, Beltran rejoins lineup play video for Facing offseason elbow surgery, Beltran rejoins lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Beltran returned to the Yankees' lineup Monday night, and though it has been a difficult first season with the club, the veteran slugger is trying to finish strong before having surgery on his ailing right elbow.

In the first year of a three-year, $45 million deal, Beltran has been limited to just 32 games in the outfield because a bone spur in his elbow. He said that the pain is tolerable, but that the Yankees probably will not ask him to resume throwing this year, so if he plays, it will be as a designated hitter.

"It's been tough, man, honestly speaking," said Beltran, who pinch-hit and struck out Sunday night after not playing since Sept. 9. "The whole situation where I haven't been able to feel good, and I'm dealing with pain sometimes -- it's hard on your mind every day when you wake up and you feel it.

"You're like, man, 'I've got to try to find a way.' The good thing is, once this is over, it's going to be fixed, and I don't have to worry about it again."

Manager Joe Girardi said that his expectation is that the 37-year-old Beltran will be able to return to the All-Star form he showed last year with the Cardinals, a season that included his first appearance in a World Series.

"Carlos has given us everything he's got," Girardi said. "He's gotten beat up this year."

The rest time following the procedure will be approximately two months, so Beltran is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

The season as a whole was a letdown for Beltran, who once met with George M. Steinbrenner back in 2005 to proclaim his desire to play in pinstripes, then finally accomplished that goal this year.

"Disappointing, but it's all right," Beltran said. "I've been here before."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tying Mo's club whiff record, Betances feeling 'thankful'

Righty reliever honored to be mentioned alongside Yankees legend

Tying Mo's club whiff record, Betances feeling 'thankful' play video for Tying Mo's club whiff record, Betances feeling 'thankful'

ST. PETERSBURG -- On the night that Charlie Hayes settled underneath that foul popup at the old Yankee Stadium, Dellin Betances had already decided that he would be a Yankees fan; at least when he wasn't handling his second grade classwork from P.S. 48 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.

It was only later that Betances would fully appreciate the contributions that Mariano Rivera had to that World Series championship season, and to see his name and statistics now lined up against Rivera's 1996 campaign has been a thrill for the 26-year-old flame-thrower.

"Now that I look back at it, I think it was amazing stuff that he did," Betances said. "I didn't realize that he threw that many innings. To see that, he was a big contributor in that year, helping them win the World Series. I think that's a tremendous job he did.

"I remember them winning, but not too much. I was still young at the time. I didn't even play baseball yet, but I did go watch a bunch of games. That's the team I grew up rooting for."

Betances recorded two strikeouts in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Orioles, giving him 130 in 86 2/3 innings. That ties Rivera's franchise record for a reliever, though Rivera -- then the setup man for closer John Wetteland -- needed 107 2/3 innings to reach that total, doing so in a year when Rivera was 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 61 regular-season appearances.

"Yeah, but he did it with one pitch," Betances is quick to point out.

Betances' strikeout total is tied for the eighth-highest single-season total of any American League reliever, and the 16th-highest such total in Major League history. Betances said that he was aware of Rivera's franchise strikeout mark, but was not focused on it.

"For me, to just be mentioned in any sentence, any breath with Mariano Rivera -- I'm just honored," Betances said. "It's been a long, long journey for me coming up the Minor League system and for me to have the year I've had this year, I'm definitely honored and thankful.

"I came into Spring Training just hoping to get a job on the team and here I am just contributing in a big way. I'm just thankful for the opportunity that I've gotten from the organization. I'm truly blessed to be mentioned in any sentence with the best of all time."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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