Rays-Yankees Preview

The Associated Press

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.

New York was 30-18 before that slump greatly because a few newcomers in their mid-30s stepped up. However, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Hafner have cooled off significantly.

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.

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