Riding a nine-game losing streak at Tropicana Field, the Yankees will turn to David Phelps, who will make his third Major League start (15th appearance) on Wednesday and try to keep ace David Price from sending the Rays to a sweep on Independence Day. Phelps, temporarily taking CC Sabathia's spot in the rotation, will make his second career start (third appearance) against the Rays. His last outing against Tampa Bay -- also his last start in the Majors -- came on May 9, when the right-hander allowed three hits and four walks while striking out three in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
"It's almost like déjà vu," Phelps said. "I'm just going to go out and try to be efficient. The last time I got this chance, I got into some really deep counts, got my pitch count up really high. I'm just going to try to do the opposite of that this time, just be on the attack from the first pitch, go out there and try to do as much as I can."
Phelps, who was recalled on Friday after rebuilding his arm strength during a stint with Class A Advanced Tampa, will be limited to approximately 80-85 pitches. Phelps threw 64 pitches in 3 1/3 innings of relief against the White Sox in Friday's game, a 14-7 loss.
"He's not completely built up," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We'll try to build him up more. You look at what Freddy [Garcia] did [on Monday] night -- we're going to do the same thing with Phelps."
The challenge of salvaging a game won't be easy for Phelps against Price, a newly minted AL All-Star. The Rays' ace, who has won five of his last six starts, earned his 11th victory of the season on Friday by holding the Tigers to two runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out seven. The left-hander has completed seven innings in each of his last three starts.
Wednesday marks Price's 17th career appearance (16th start) against the Yankees, whom he has faced more than any other team. Despite all of that experience -- as well as a 6-3 record and 4.03 lifetime ERA -- Price remains cautious of the Yankees' offensive firepower.
"One through nine, they can do a lot of damage and have guys that definitely know their roles," Price said. "They don't mind giving up an at-bat to get a bunt down, to hit a ground ball to the right side to get a runner over or anything like that. They're going to put the ball in play with two strikes. They're going to choke up and make it tough on you to strike them out. That's what good teams do, and that's what these guys are really good at.
"I'm facing an All-Star lineup tomorrow. That's what you get when you pitch in this league. It's very tough. Yankee hitters have a very good approach to the game, a very good approach to hitting. They make starting pitchers work, and that's what you have to work on the most."
Yankees: Jeter reaches the century mark
With his first-inning double on Tuesday, Derek Jeter recorded his 100th hit of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jeter is the third player in the past 80 years to record 100 hits before July 4 while 38 years old or older. Paul Molitor reached 110 hits before July 4, 1996, at age 39, and Pete Rose recorded 100 hits by July 4, 1979, at age 38.
Dewayne Wise is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with three home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored since June 25, and he's hitting .500 (8-for-16) when in the starting lineup during that span.
Rays: Zobrist picking up the pace
Ben Zobrist's season got off to a slow start, as he entered June hitting .203 (35-for-172). The versatile slugger has rebounded to bat .340 (34-for-100) since then, however, hitting four home runs and collecting 14 RBIs. Zobrist is hitting .378 (14-for-37) with one home run, five RBIs, five runs scored and four doubles in his last 11 games, including four multihit games.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees' nine-game losing streak at Tropicana Field is their longest road skid against one opponent since they lost 15 in a row to the Rangers from 1989-91.
With Tuesday's 7-4 win, the Rays snapped an eight-game stretch of being held to four runs or fewer, which had been their longest such stretch since an 11-game run from Sept. 29, 2010-April 7, 2011.