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Understudies perform lines well for Yanks

When the credits rolled after another hit Yankees performance Thursday, a keen observer couldn't help but notice the nice work by some bit players -- Ramiro Peña, Andruw Jones and Francisco Cervelli.

The 5-0 victory over the Brewers felt like a movie Yankees fans have seen a lot in this 48-31 season, and there were the usual headliners. Robinson Cano's two-run double in the first inning immediately gave away the plot and Mark Teixeira cracked his 300th career home run in the third.

"Very cool,'' Teixeira said. "Especially in a win. I'm not trying to downplay it or anything like that. But it's not 500 or 600. This game is such a daily grind that it's hard to think about the big picture.''

Small screen, then: The Yankees again demonstrated how to raise the debt ceiling on substitute use. With no real drop in efficiency.

Faced with a day game after a night game and a stretch of 13 straight work days before the All-Star break, manager Joe Girardi rested Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin. The mathematics involved meant Thursday's lineup would have a drop in combined season average, from the regulars to understudies, from .272 to .199; in home runs from 44 to six; in RBIs from 141 to 24.

"But that's part of this team,'' Granderson said. "Everybody can come up and deliver. Alex out, I'm off, but guys come in. And it's not just one guy.''

Cervelli went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs. Jones, the 15-year veteran with a locker full of Gold Gloves, was 1-for-2. Peña contributed solid defense and a sacrifice bunt, though he finished 0-for-3 after being robbed by third baseman Casey McGehee's diving stop in the third inning.

"It's not fair,'' Peña said, though he was smiling when he said it. "But it happens in baseball. Sometimes you hit it good and they make a great play. Sometimes you hit it bad and get a hit. It was just great to play and help the team.''

Beyond producing runs in the third and eighth innings with a pair of two-out RBI singles, Cervelli (now at .231) made a nifty throw on speedy Carlos Gomez in the sixth inning after CC Sabathia's third strike skipped to the backstop and Gomez lit out for first base. "I'm lucky, yeah,'' Cervelli said. "Just grab the ball and throw.''

He also said he did nothing more for Sabathia than "put the glove and he throws; I'm the target,'' but allowed that he was "happy'' to contribute.

Maybe all these fellows need is their chance on the stage. According to the Heisenberg Effect, offered by a 20th century German physicist, no person enacts the same performance before an audience that he would produce in unobserved rehearsals. There were 46,903 in the audience Thursday.

Peña, Jones and Cervelli -- simply by being on the roster of the team with the American League's best record -- aren't exactly operating without a license.

"It's exciting,'' Teixeira said, "that we have played well in the absence'' of some leading characters, whether injured or just resting.

New York Sports