Lineup vs. lefties coming on strong for Yanks

Lineup vs. lefties coming on strong for Yanks

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' lineup may look a little different over the next several days, and not just because it will be missing Alex Rodriguez.

Beginning on Saturday, the Yankees will face left-handed starters in four of their next five games. That means more of Marcus Thames and Austin Kearns in the order, and that's something manager Joe Girardi is happy about.

Thames has feasted on lefties all season, with a .338 average in 71 at-bats entering Saturday. He has gradually moved up the batting order against southpaws, hitting fifth on Saturday against the Mariners' Jason Vargas and batting as high as third last week when Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup. Thames responded with five hits in 10 at-bats in Texas, including a home run.

Thames was batting .370 with a pair of homers and six RBIs in 19 games (11 starts) since returning from a strained right hamstring on July 4. He had hit safely in his past eight starts and 10 of his last 11 entering Saturday's game.

"Getting a healthy Marcus back has helped [against lefties]," Girardi said. "He was a guy that we brought here to play against lefties. It definitely has increased our options."

Kearns, meanwhile, has hit the ground running since joining the Yankees at the Trade Deadline. In 12 games, the veteran was hitting .353 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs.

"His at-bats have been really, really good," Girardi said of Kearns after he contributed a two-run double in Thursday's 11-5 win over the Tigers. "We're going to see some left-handers, so that's a good thing."

"I'm just trying to have a good at-bat every time up there," said Kearns. "I'm just trying to take the same approach, and if it's good, don't mess with it."