Unfortunately for their fading playoff chances, their offense has hit rock bottom.New York hopes its beleaguered bats can wake up Wednesday night against Rays right-hander Alex Cobb.The Yankees (76-74) had their postseason hopes put on life support with Tuesday's 6-1 loss at Tropicana Field -- their fifth defeat in six games.Tensions initially flared when Steve Geltz hit Derek Jeter on the hand in the eighth inning, marking the fifth time a Yankees batter has been struck by a Rays pitcher in the last five meetings.Manager Joe Girardi was ejected when he came onto the field after Jeter was struck, and David Phelps was tossed in the bottom of the inning after throwing inside against Kevin Kiermaier, prompting both dugouts to empty."I'm all for pitching inside, but you've got to know how to pitch inside because it's extremely dangerous," Girardi said. "I don't know what they expect ... you hit five of our guys in four games, you don't think we'll be (mad)?"Girardi is likely more concerned with his team's lack of offense. New York has scored seven runs during its 1-5 stretch while going 3 for 34 with runners in scoring position.The Yankees aren't getting any healthier, either, with Martin Prado's season coming to an end after an appendectomy Tuesday. Prado leads the team with a .316 average in his 37 games since being acquired from Arizona and had hit seven homers with 16 RBIs.Mark Teixeira also wasn't in Tuesday's lineup due to a nagging right wrist injury, and Girardi was unsure when he would play again.New York will have to try to figure out Cobb (9-7, 2.75 ERA), whose bid for a no-hitter Thursday at Yankee Stadium was spoiled by Chris Young's one-out double in the eighth inning. That hit ended Cobb's outing in the Rays' eventual 5-4 loss."Cobb was outstanding. He was as good as I've seen him," Jeter said afterward.Jeter -- caught in an 0-for-26 slump that is the second-longest of his career -- is just 2 for 15 against Cobb.Cobb is 7-1 over his last 14 starts and has a 0.92 ERA in the last six. He fanned eight over 7 1/3 innings in a 5-0 home victory against the Yankees on Aug. 15 and is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in his last seven meetings. His 1.69 career ERA versus New York is his lowest against an opponent he's faced multiple times.Teixeira is the only New York player with any consistent success against Cobb, going 4 for 11 with a home run. No other Yankee is batting better than .222 against him in more than one at-bat.Brandon McCarthy (6-4, 2.54 ERA) endured a brief rough patch for New York when he allowed nine runs over 12 1/3 innings in back-to-back starts Aug. 26 and 31, but has since posted two straight quality outings. He threw seven shutout innings in the Yankees' 2-1 loss at Baltimore on Friday, leaving without a decision.McCarthy had been 3-0 with a 0.88 ERA in his past four outings versus Tampa Bay before yielding four runs -- two earned -- over 6 1/3 innings of a 5-0 road loss Aug. 15.The Rays (74-78) are aiming for their first three-game sweep of the Yankees in St. Petersburg since April 6-8, 2012.James Loney is 15 for 33 over his last eight contests.
Alex Cobb has held opposing hitters to a .176 batting average in at-bats to end in a changeup this season, the 10th-lowest rate in MLB among pitchers with at least 20 starts. Jacoby Ellsbury has a .213 batting average in at-bats to end in a changeup this season, which is 37 points below the league average among qualified hitters.