Big night for A-Rod and Yanks bullpen

Brett Gardner, stuck on the bench for two games because of a bruised right wrist, returned to action Friday night at Tropicana Field as a pinch runner in the ninth inning and got a crucial stolen base with two out to set up the ending of a monster night at the plate for Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod, who had homered twice earlier in the game, sent Gardner home from second base with a single to center field for his fourth RBI of the game that shot the Yankees to a 5-4 victory that also featured five shutout innings by their bullpen.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is toying with the idea of adding a sixth starting pitcher to the rotation. With CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka all coming back from injuries, the skipper is looking at ways to take some of the workload off his starters.

“I wouldn’t really call it a six-man rotation,” Girardi told reporters before the game. “I’d call it more of inserting a sixth man one time through, and my guess is you might see it. Weather could play a role, so you just have to wait and see, but it’s something that’s in the back of our minds. We’ve kind of prepared ourselves for it.”

Esmil Rogers, currently pitching in long relief, was identified by Girardi as one of the candidates for the sixth-starter role. The others would be Bryan Mitchell and Chase Whitley, both currently pitching as starters at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. They were all candidates for the fifth-starter spot that Adam Warren won in spring training.

Warren had an up-and-down start Friday night. The up part were the first three innings when he shut out the Rays on three hits, all singles. The down part was the fourth inning when Tampa Bay bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 4-2 lead on a three-run home run by rookie Allen Dykstra that was followed by a solo shot by Logan Forsythe. It was the first major-league home run for Dykstra, who is no relation to former Mets and Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra.

Warren was rolling along until Evan Longoria reached first base on an infield single. Warren then walked Desmond Jennings and watched Dykstra slam a 2-0 fastball off the right field foul poll to surrender the lead. Warren’s ERA shot up from 1.69 to 4.82. He did not get stuck with a losing decision, however.

Rodriguez, who had given Warren a 1-0 lead with a 471-foot home run to left-center leading off the second inning against Rays starter Nathan Karns, got the Yanks even with a two-run blast in the sixth off reliever Ernesto Frieri. It marked A-Rod’s first multi-homer game since May 23, 2012 and the 61st of his career. He took over the club lead in homers with four and RBI with 11.

Rogers took over for Warren in the fifth and pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings of relief, a good audition for that sixth-starter job.

The Yankees also got a home run from Stephen Drew (No. 3) with two out in the fourth. It was the 100th career homer for Drew as he and brother J.D. Drew became the eighth pair of brothers to hit 100 or more homers apiece in the majors, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other pairs were the Alomars (Roberto and Sandy Jr.), the  Boones (Aaron and Bret), the Boyers (Ken and Clete), the DiMaggios (Joe and Vince), the Meusels (Bob and Irish), the Uptons (Justin and Melvin, Jr.) and the Youngs (Dmitri and Delmon). Aaron Boone, Clete Boyer, Joe DiMaggio and Bob Meusel played all or parts of their careers with the Yankees. 

Friday night’s Yankees pre-game show on YES included a feature on Richard Albero, 65, a retired Naval Officer who March 2 started a charity walk from the plate at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to Yankee Stadium, which he hopes to reach sometime around Memorial Day. Albero is roughly at the halfway point of his 1,200-mile walk, just north of Myrtle Beach, S.C. He is walking in memory of his nephew, who died in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and also to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. For more about Albero’s initiative, visit richardsyankeeswalk.org.

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