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NEW YORK — In the last few days Drew
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, manager Aaron Boone has moved some things around
with the lineup for the New York Yankees.

He moved Didi Gregorius up to third following a two-homer game Tuesday and
slotted Greg Bird seventh.

One change not made by Boone was moving Gleyber Torres from the ninth spot,
and it is likely the rookie second baseman will stay there again Thursday night
in the opener of a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

In 44 games since making his major league debut April 22, Torres has batted
ninth 35 times while getting four starts as an eighth-place hitter, two in the
fifth spot and one apiece as a sixth and seventh-place hitter.

Although the Yankees dropped a 5-4 decision to the Washington Nationals on
Wednesday and lost for the third time in 13 games, Torres hit his 12th homer.
Each of his homers is out of the ninth spot, surpassing the team record set by
Alfonso Soriano in 2001.

“I think his value in that nine hole is significant,” Boone said before
Torres’ latest homer. “And I think it’s played out that way where he’s come up
in a lot of big situations in that spot. And as we turn over our lineup ahead of
Gardy (Brett Gardner) and (Aaron) Judge; in essence Cheap
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, in a lot of cases it does become like a
second leadoff hitter down there.”

For a second leadoff hitter, Torres is batting .296 with 30 RBIs, though he
is 9-for-39 over his last 11 games.

Torres’ latest homer occurred on a night when Bird hit his third homer of the
season and had two hits after entering Wednesday with five hits in his previous
36 at-bats.

“Not a lot different frankly,” Boone said. “I’m kind of seeing the at-bats I
saw tonight, just not a ton of results.”

One player who will return to the lineup is catcher Gary Sanchez, who was
given the last two nights off. Sanchez is hitless in his last 15 at-bats,
4-for-53 since May 21 and batting .190 overall.

Whatever the lineup card looks like Chris
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, the Yankees will attempt to avoid consecutive losses
for the first time since May 22-23 in Texas.

The Rays are 4-1 in their last five games since dropping eight straight.
Tampa Bay also improved to 28-22 in its last 50 contests after getting off to a
4-13 start.

On Wednesday, the Rays pulled out a 1-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays when
Matt Duffy hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. After
Duffy’s hit, Tampa Bay will play the next 16 games against the Yankees, Houston
Astros and Nationals.

“We are starting to roll a little bit, feeling good, and we are going to keep
that going,” Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers told reporters.

Tampa Bay’s tough stretch will start with Blake Snell on the mound. Snell is
8-3 with a 2.30 ERA and has matched a career high by winning his last four
decisions. It is the third time in his brief career Snell has done so.

Since allowing five runs over 3 1/3 innings in a 17-1 loss at Baltimore on
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, Snell is 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in five starts
while totaling 36 strikeouts in his last 30 1/3 innings.

Snell last pitched Saturday in a 7-3 victory against the Seattle Mariners.
Matched up against Felix Hernandez, he allowed two runs (one earned) on seven
hits in six innings. He allowed a homer to Nelson Cruz, snapping a scoreless
streak of 23 1/3 innings, and did so on a day when the left-hander felt his
stuff was not as crisp.

“Off what I had today, I’d say it was good,” Snell said. “Frustration with
most (of my pitches). It’s a tough lineup. When you don’t have anything going
and get through six, you’ve got to be happy with it.”

Snell Cheap
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, along with aces Max Scherzer and Justin
Verlander, has allowed two runs or fewer in 12 starts, good for the most in the
majors. He also has allowed one earned run or less nine times.

Snell is 2-3 with a 4.58 ERA in nine starts against the Yankees and 0-3 with
a 6.55 in Yankee Stadium. He last faced the Yankees April 4 in New York when he
allowed five earned runs, including third-inning homers to Giancarlo Stanton and
Gary Sanchez in 3 1/3 innings.

Domingo German will make another attempt at his first career win Thursday. He
is 0-4 with a 5.32 ERA this season and 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in six starts since
entering the rotation last month in place of the injured Jordan Montgomery.

German last pitched in Saturday’s 4-3 victory at the New York Mets when he
allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. German allowed three hits,
including homers to Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, in the first inning and
only two hits the rest of the way.

Thursday marks German’s 19th career appearance and first against Tampa
Bay.

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