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08/20/10 5:46 PM ET

Yanks must clear Mariners' hurdle for gains

With the Rays battling it out far from home on the West Coast, the Yankees have the luxury of playing at their home ballpark this weekend against the Mariners, with a chance to pad their lead in the American League East standings.

The Bombers' efforts to gain ground fell short on Friday night against Seattle, but they'll get another chance to extend their Yankee Stadium dominance on Saturday.

New York will need to see the Javier Vazquez of June an July on Saturday rather than the more recent version, which has been less than dominant. In his last three starts, the veteran right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA.

In his last outing against the Tigers, Vazquez allowed just two earned runs, but his control seemed to have disappeared as he walked four batters in just four innings of work.

Vazquez has been battling a downturn in velocity throughout the entire season, but the Yanks have been working with him to combat the issues and don't seem overly concerned.

"We've made some adjustments," pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "I don't want to go into specifics, but we did some stuff where we straightened out his alignment and keep him over the rubber a little longer. That should give him better command, and you never know, it could give him a tick or two to his velocity."

On the other side of the ball, New York won't have the luxury of looking past the Mariners' Saturday starter, Jason Vargas. In an otherwise disappointing season, Vargas has proved to be one of the club's most consistent forces. And his teammates will be the first to back up that statement.

"You can't say enough about what the guy has done," catcher Josh Bard said of his battery mate. "Obviously this year has been a big disappointment for us as a club, but he's been one of the bright spots. I hope he gets the credit he deserves, because that guy is ready to pitch every fifth day and he's doing it."

Mariners: Showing confidence in Tuiasosopo
Rookie Matt Tuiasosopo has one of the hottest bats of any of the Mariners, with seven RBIs in his last three games. As a result, he got the call in left field on Friday night against the Yankees and A.J. Burnett. Interim manager Daren Brown gave Tui a vote of confidence choosing to start him over fellow rookie Michael Saunders. Tuiasosopo went 1-for-4 on Friday night. Brown didn't define who would get the start on Saturday, but suggested that Tuiasosopo could continue to earn playing time if his bat stays hot. "Tui has played well and is getting an opportunity [to play every day]," Brown said. "We'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here."

Yankees: A-Rod's return short-lived
The Yankees got Alex Rodriguez back to their lineup on Friday night, but only for one at-bat. Rodriguez left Monday's game against the Tigers with tightness in his left calf, sat out the rest of the series against Detroit and then had to leave the opening game against the Mariners with a flare-up of the same issue. Rodriguez had been slotted in as the designated hitter. There wasn't a set date when he would return to third base, but that was before he left the game early. Though Joe Girardi expects A-Rod to miss a few days, the manager was optimistic the third baseman would avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Worth noting
Seattle is 34-16 when scoring four or more runs, compared to 15-57 when scoring three runs or fewer. ... The Mariners have won eight of 11 games. ... After scoring a combined 20 runs in their past two games, the Yanks mustered just four hits on Friday night. ... Yankee hitters struck out 13 times at the hands of Mariners pitchers in the opener.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.