New York Yankees starting pitcher Brian Gordon (22) reacts after...

New York Yankees starting pitcher Brian Gordon (22) reacts after first baseman Mark Teixeira (not pictured) completed the final out in the top of the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium. (June 16, 2011) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Amazingly, the transfer of Brian Gordon from Lehigh Valley to the Bronx stirred up a healthy contingent of Phillies fans, who essentially asked, "Wait a minute, the Yankees want this guy? Then why aren't we keeping him?"

To which Brian Cashman, whose words often serve as sharp instruments, smiled and said, "They got Cliff Lee. We got Brian Gordon."

And as Lee threw a two-hitter against the Marlins down at Citizens Bank Park yesterday afternoon, Gordon made his first major-league start, against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium, and held his own. The Yankees proceeded to win, 3-2, in 12 innings, their sixth win in seven games after their three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.

Lee, whom Cashman failed to acquire both at last year's trade deadline and this past offseason, won't be coming over in a swap. Right now, it looks as though no one of that caliber will be available. So the Yankees, as they exemplified this past week, will dig under every rock on baseball's terrain in search of improvements.

"I'm up for the incremental upgrades or the significant upgrades," Cashman said before the game. "As you see by the moves we're making, they're the incremental upgrades right now. I feel like our roster is better on June 16 than it was on June 13."

Gordon and Cory Wade, the righty reliever who picked up the win Thursday with two shutout innings, both joined the team in these last couple of days through a most humble means: the opt-out. That occurs when a veteran player, toiling in the minor leagues, has negotiated the right to jump organizations if he sees a better opportunity elsewhere.

Gordon found himself with the pitching-rich Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, the aforementioned Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Wade was with the pitching-rich Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Durham, N.C. He joined the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, on Monday and got called up to the big leagues Wednesday.

The Yankees can't boast of as deep a pitching staff as those two franchises, and they know it. With Gordon going against Texas ace C.J. Wilson, Cashman said beforehand, "The odds are against us going into today. If you're in Vegas, you'd bet against us, but it's baseball, and anything can happen."

The Yankees need a whole lot of "anything." They already had benefited from Bartolo Colon's stunning excellence until Colon's placement on the disabled list (strained left hamstring) prompted the acquisition of Gordon. They've also been thankful for Freddy Garcia's steadiness and, out of the bullpen, Luis Ayala's resurgence.

The best veteran starting pitcher available might be Houston's Brett Myers. Relievers? There could be more there, such as San Diego's Heath Bell or Oakland's Grant Balfour or even the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez if Terry Collins' group falters.

Cashman wouldn't rule out looking at lefty Scott Kazmir, just waived by the Angels, although that sounds like a long shot.

On offense, the Yankees' problem hitters (Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher) are performing better, and Jesus Montero looms as a potential internal solution.

"If Montero comes, I want him to come to play," Cashman said, adding that he doesn't want to burn a 40-man roster spot just to call up Montero as a reserve -- even though the general manager conceded that Montero is superior to Francisco Cervelli.

It's a balancing act for Cashman, looking at both the big picture and the small picture, which is why the "incremental" additions loom so large.

"It's a very special day," a beaming Gordon said. Wade, also looking pleased, said, "It's kind of been a whirlwind."

These are your 2011 Yankees, patching holes and fine-tuning while on the move. So far, at least, you have to like the ride.