Some veteran offseason acquisitions keyed the New York Yankees overcoming injuries to many of their top offensive players well into May.
That trend has ended in June.
Baseball's worst offense of the past four weeks resides in the Bronx, where back-to-back poor hitting displays leave the Yankees looking to avoid a season-high third straight home loss Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays .
Missing Derek Jeter (ankle) and Alex Rodriguez (hip) all season, New York (39-33) learned Tuesday that Kevin Youkilis (back surgery) will be out 10-12 weeks and Mark Teixeira (wrist) was going back on the disabled list. While Teixeira has missed all but 15 games, Curtis Granderson (forearm, finger) has played only eight and returned to the DL on May 25.
Since that date, the Yankees have gone 9-15 while hitting .216 and scoring 71 runs - both lowest in the majors.
After hitting .301 with 10 homers through May 15, Wells has batted .118 without a home run in 29 games. Wells, 6 for 59 in June, is appreciative manager Joe Girardi even keeps him in the lineup.
"I've got to repay him for that," Wells told the team's official website, "and that's what I plan on doing."
Hafner has 11 homers but has batted .105 since Granderson's return to the DL. Overbay had eight home runs and 28 RBIs at that time but has since failed to go deep while driving in four runs.
The veteran trio has hit .104 against the Rays this season, including 1 for 10 in an 8-3 defeat Thursday.
Evan Longoria homered twice for Tampa Bay (38-35), a night after having three hits in a 6-2 win at Boston. The Rays have totaled 29 hits in the last two games after a 1-6 stretch during which they batted .200 and averaged 2.0 runs.
"We've had some tough losses in the past week but the guys hung in there really well," manager Joe Maddon said.
None of the Yankees' runs Thursday came off a hit, scoring on a wild pitch, Robinson Cano 's sacrifice fly and Hafner's groundout. New York had six hits - its sixth straight game failing to reach double digits - after being held to three in a 6-0 loss to the Dodgers in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader.
The Yankees haven't dropped three consecutive regular-season home games since a four-game slide July 28-31.
It would seem they have a favorable matchup Friday against Roberto Hernandez (4-7, 5.02 ERA).
Excluding a win in Miami against the majors' lowest-scoring team as he came within one out of a complete game, Hernandez is 0-4 with a 7.82 ERA in five starts on the road. The former Fausto Carmona has lost his last five starts versus the Yankees, posting an 11.32 ERA.
The latest came May 24, when he was tagged for five runs in four innings of a 9-4 defeat. That's part of Hernandez's current stretch of failing to post a quality start in four of six outings overall.
David Phelps (4-4, 4.08) will try to beat Hernandez again after doing so last month with 7 2-3 innings of four-run ball.
Phelps gave up one run and four hits through his first 12 innings of June, but he yielded four runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
Tampa Bay is 4-3 in the season series, holding New York to a .202 average.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 15, 2013||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left tricep tightness|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|May 04, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|New York Yankees|
|June 16, 2013||Mark Teixeira||15-Day DL||Right wrist inflammation|
|June 15, 2013||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Wrist|
|June 14, 2013||Kevin Youkilis||15-Day DL||Lumbar spine strain|
|June 01, 2013||Chris Stewart||Day-to-Day||Left game - dehydration|
|May 25, 2013||Curtis Granderson||15-Day DL||Broken left pinkie finger|
|May 24, 2013||Curtis Granderson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Broken left pinkie finger|
NEW YORK (AP) -- His day done, Zoilo Almonte stood in a corner of the Yankees' clubhouse and pulled out a cellphone. As his teammates showered up, got dressed and left, the rookie lingered in his dirt-smudged uniform, talking away.
There was plenty for him to talk about.
Almonte provided much-needed pop in his first major league start, homering and adding two singles Friday night that led New York over the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2.
"It was a sign that things are starting to be where they should be," Almonte said through a translator.
Almonte started in place of slumping left fielder Vernon Wells and quickly delivered, a day after getting a pinch single for his first hit. The 24-year-old was promoted from Triple-A this week, joining an injury-ravaged team that's had trouble scoring.
"I'm still a little nervous. It's not easy for me," he said.
Almonte also showed off a strong arm in helping the Yankees win for the third time in 10 games.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he admired Almonte's "pretty swing" a couple of years ago in spring training. Almonte pressed in camp this season, did well in the minors - hitting .297 with six home runs and 36 RBIs - and earned this opportunity.
"He's been on our radar for a while," Girardi said, later adding, "the time has arrived."
David Phelps (5-4) beat Roberto Hernandez (4-8) and the Rays for the second time in a month. Tampa Bay was trying for its first three-game winning streak in June.
Phelps gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings. The Yankees used four relievers to finish it, with Mariano Rivera closing in a non-save situation.
Before Almonte's solo homer in the sixth inning made it 5-2, the Yankees played a lot of small ball.
Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly in the first and Ichiro Suzuki got an RBI with a soft comebacker in the third. The next inning, Jayson Nix grounded into a bases-loaded double play for a 3-2 lead and David Adams followed with an infield hit for another run.
"We weren't awful tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We just had some bad baseball luck on our side."
The switch-hitting Almonte went 3 for 4, making him 4 for 6 in the majors. His home run sailed over the right-center wall and was caught on the fly in the Yankees' bullpen by coach Mike Harkey .
Almonte said he would have his teammates sign the ball, then present it to his mother.
Asked if he'd ever had a better day, he said: "Today and when my son was born."
Almonte got a hug from Cano, his fellow Dominican, when he reached the dugout. Cheered by festive fans on a pleasant first night of summer, Almonte emerged for a brief curtain call.
Lyle Overbay singled home a run with two outs in the Yankees eighth. That gave Almonte one more at-bat, but he struck out.
Ben Zobrist hit an RBI single in the Tampa Bay third. Luke Scott hit a single that made it 2-all in the fourth and the Rays went on to load the bases with one out. Matt Joyce hit a fly ball that Almonte caught on the run at medium depth, and his swift throw forced Scott to hold at third base. Desmond Jennings flied out to end the threat.
NOTES: Rays LHP David Price (left triceps strain) gave up two runs and two hits in 2 1-3 innings for Class-A Charlotte in his first rehabilitation start. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and walked two. ... RHP Alex Colome will be promoted from Triple-A to start for the Rays on Saturday. In his only big league appearance, he didn't permit an earned run in 5 2-3 innings and beat Miami on May 30. ... LHP CC Sabathia (7-5, 3.93 ERA) starts Saturday for the Yankees. He's lost twice to the Rays this season and four straight times overall. ... The Rays signed first-round draft pick Nick Ciuffo. The 18-year-old catcher from South Carolina will join Tampa Bay's team in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. ... Only one other major leaguer has had the first name of Zoilo - 1965 AL MVP Zoilo Versalles . ... Wells is in a 9-for-87 rut.