Rays-Yankees Preview

The New York Yankees honored their glorious recent past by celebrating the retiring Derek Jeter in an elaborate ceremony prior to their latest game.

The present doesn’t look anywhere near as good.

After suffering yet another costly loss via shutout following the feting of their captain, the Yankees try to get back on track and bolster their fading playoff hopes when they host the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.

Pomp and circumstance ruled as Jeter’s former teammates and others such as Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken Jr. took part in Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, but the good feelings evaporated once gametime arrived. New York (73-68) was done in by its feeble offense once again in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City.

Blanked for the second time in the three-game series, the Yankees did not give up an earned run in either shutout, doomed by two more errors that gave them four for the series. With a 5-7 mark in its last 12 games and 3-3 on this nine-game homestand, New York has dropped behind Cleveland in the race for the second wild card and will need to pass three teams in the final three weeks to make the postseason.

"We got our last off-day (Monday)," manager Joe Girardi told MLB’s official website. "And then we got to win a whole lot."

Girardi will try to begin that process by sending Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.78 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander has been very good lately, going 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his last four starts.

He threw seven innings and gave up one run and four hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in a 5-1 victory over Boston on Wednesday.

Kuroda appears to have more left in the tank than he did late last season, when he limped to an 0-6 mark and 6.56 ERA in his final eight starts.

That ugly stretch began Aug. 17 – the same date his current four-game run started this year, when he beat Tampa Bay 4-2 with 6 2-3 innings of two-run ball.

"Especially last year, I didn’t have a good month of September, so I just wanted to change that and I just wanted to contribute to my team," Kuroda said.

Kuroda has faced Tampa Bay three times in 2014, going 1-1 with a 3.10 ERA.

New York has won the last two meetings with the Rays, the second coming on Kuroda’s Aug. 17 start. Those defeats began an extended stretch of struggles for the Rays, as they’ve gone 8-14 since reaching .500 after dropping 18 games under the break-even mark.

Tampa Bay was on the verge of sweeping first-place Baltimore on Sunday, but lost 7-5 in 11 innings. Evan Longoria, James Loney, David DeJesus and Kevin Kiermaier homered for the Rays, who had gone deep three times in the previous 15 games.

Tampa Bay (69-75) was 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Chris Archer (8-8, 3.60) has struggled badly in losing his past two starts, giving up 13 earned runs in 10 innings. As bad as he was in those outings, his history in this series should give his team confidence, as the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.51 ERA in five career starts against New York.

"The whole Derek Jeter thing, I mean, we have to play baseball," Archer said. "Everybody will show him his love, but once the ball’s in my hand, there’s no other thought than just strictly getting him out, or executing whatever pitch I have to execute."