After losing to the Mets May 23, the Yankees were six games behind the Rays. Since then they've gone 14-5, including today's victory over the Astros that allowed them to sweep the series. They went 12-4 in this recent stretch against Cleveland, Baltimore (twice), Toronto and Houston 12-4. Three of the teams were in last place when the Yankees faced them.

After Monday's off day, the defending National League champion Phillies are in town, with Roy Halladay taking on CC Sabathia in the headliner matchup Tuesday.

“I liked the way we’re playing,” Joe Girardi said. “But I don’t care who you’re playing, you look at this club [the Astros]; they were 8-2 their last 10 games. They were playing extremely well so everyday’s a new day, everyday’s a tough game in my mind. We’ve been winning series and that’s what I want to continue to do.”

*** Phil Hughes improved to 9-1, though he was kicking himself for not limiting the damage in the sixth inning when the Astros scored four times, all with two outs, to get back into the game.

"I should have pitched better than I did, especially in the sixth inning," said Hughes, who allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"We've seen him pitch better, we've seen him go deeper into games but he still did what he had to do," Girardi said.

*** Jorge Posada hit a grand slam a second straight day – the first Yankee to do that since Bill Dickey in 1937. Posada said he was sore afterward but both he and Girardi said that was to be expected, seeing that Posada didn't appear in any rehab games. Still...

"I'm a little concerned but I wasn't even sure how many innings I was going to play him today going into the game because usually when you come back from an injury you'll catch five innings, or you might catch seven innings in rehab," Girardi said. "We didn't do that with Jorge so I'm not really surprised that he's sore but I think it's really more important how he feels on Tuesday and even tomorrow even though we're not playing. But there's always going to be a certain level of concern until he doesn't have any pain."

As for Alex Rodriguez, he went through treatment a third straight day at the Stadium. 

“Good today,” Girardi said of how A-Rod felt after treatment. “We’ll evaluate it Tuesday and hopefully I can pencil him in there.”  

advertisement | advertise on newsday