The Yankees' Andrew Benintendi, who was batting, leaves the team's...

The Yankees' Andrew Benintendi, who was batting, leaves the team's game against the Rays during the third inning Friday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Credit: AP/Scott Audette

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Yankees leftfielder Andrew Benintendi left Friday night’s game against the Rays in the third inning with a right wrist injury. X-rays were negative and he’ll undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Benintendi, who had doubled in the first inning, was hurt while swinging and missing on the first pitch of his at-bat in the third. He shook his right hand in discomfort and was led off the field by Aaron Boone and a trainer.

“He felt like something popped in his wrist and he’s got some numbness in his fingers right now,’’ Boone said after the game. “So we’ll have to get all the MRIs and stuff tomorrow, which will tell us more.

“Obviously, a big [loss]. Obviously, an important guy in our lineup right now, especially as we struggle as much as we are right now offensively. Benny has been hitting the ball really well. So we’re hoping the best for him tomorrow.”

Rizzo out with back issues

Anthony Rizzo won’t be back in the Yankees’ lineup until Tuesday at the earliest.

Rizzo has been bothered by lower-back tightness since late June, and Boone said the Yankees left him in Southern California to be seen Thursday by Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist based in Marina del Rey.

Boone said Rizzo, who was scheduled to fly back to New York on Friday, received an epidural shot that the Yankees hope will allow the first baseman to work out pain-free Saturday to Monday and be back in the lineup by Tuesday night for the second game of a home series against the Twins.

“Really optimistic that this is going to do the trick and be what helps him,” Boone said. “He had an MRI a couple of weeks ago that gave Anthony, and us, a lot of peace of mind in that actually it came back better than where he was in spring training. So I think there’s a lot of optimism that these shots will kind of do the trick as far as getting the pain out of there. Hopefully, as we get ready to start the homestand, he’ll be ready to go.”

But as former manager Joe Girardi used to say, “Backs are tricky.” That has proved to be the case for Rizzo, who missed four games because of the same back issue in early July and missed five more in early August.

Said Boone, “I think they feel good long-term based on the MRI, and that this [the epidural] is something that should give him a lot of relief the rest of the season.”

Taillon seems OK

Jameson Taillon, forced from Wednesday’s start against the Angels after taking a line drive off his right wrist area and suffering a contusion (X-rays were negative), said he played catch pain-free Thursday and expects to be able to take his next scheduled turn through the rotation.

Said Taillon, “We definitely got lucky.”  

Reversal of fortunes

The Yankees (79-53) now have a five-game lead over Tampa Bay (73-57). The Yankees (61-23) had led the Rays (45-38) by 15 1/2 games on July 8. Since that date, they have gone 18-30 and the Rays are 28-19.

Since Aug. 12, when they trailed by 12 games, the Rays have gone 15-4 to the Yankees’ 8-11.

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