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Aug 14, 6:27 PM EDT

The Yankees have gone from perennial to millennials, quickening their pivot to youth by starting 8 players 26 or under for the first time since 1967


AP Photo
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Yankees have gone from perennial to millennials.

With a postseason berth a longshot for a team accustomed to constant contention, New York's pivot to youth quickened Sunday. A 22-year-old pitcher was surrounded by a catcher and third baseman of 23, first baseman and right fielder of 24, and second baseman, shortstop and left fielder of 26.

Not since the final day of the 1967 season had New York's lineup card included that many players yet to turn 27.

"Jacoby was an old man today," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, a reference to 32-year-old center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the elder in his starting lineup.

There will be growing pains for the Baby Bombers, as evidenced by the Tampa Bay Rays' 12-3 victory.

Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer off Luis Severino, and Evan Longoria added a three-run double against reliever Luis Cessa to cap a six-run fourth inning that put the Rays ahead 8-1. Severino (1-8) was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 10 minutes after the final out.

"It's frustrating to get sent up and down, but to be really successful at this level, you have to have a lot of mental toughness, and this is part of it," Girardi said. "You have to able to fight through adversity."

New York's four-game winning streak was stopped and the Yankees (60-57) dropped 4 1/2 games back for the AL's second wild card, failing in their attempt to move five games over .500 for the first time this season.

On Saturday, Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin, both 24, became the first teammates to hit home runs in their first big league at-bats in the same game, a feat that led the Hall of Fame to request their bats.

On another hot and steamy afternoon, Judge had an opposite-field homer over the right-field scoreboard in the third inning off Jake Odorizzi (7-5). Judge joined Joe Lefebvre (May 22-23, 1980) as the only players to homer for the Yankees in their first two big league games. One inning later, 23-year-old Gary Sanchez hit his second home run since he was brought up on Aug. 3.

"It's a lot of fun to watch these guys come up and have the little bit of success they've had early on these first couple of days," said Brett Gardner, who missed his second straight game due to a swollen right ankle.

After honoring reliever Mariano Rivera in a pregame ceremony to unveil his Monument Park plaque, New York started rookies in the 6-through-9 slots of its batting order. The lineup's average age 26 years, 165 days was down from 31 years, 303 days from this season's opener.

"They've always kind of been a veteran ballclub," Rays manager Kevin Cash said, "but right now they're young. So we're still learning a lot of things about them."

Severino allowed seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings, leaving him with a 7.19 ERA. The Yankees think he can again become a consistent starter and do not intend to shift him to the bullpen.

"He told me that I had to work on my changeup," the right-hander said after meeting with Girardi.

Severino was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA as a rookie in the final two months of last season. Now he is the first Yankee to lose six straight starts since Kevin Brown in 2004-05.

"I think his slider is better than it was last year," Girardi said, "but they find your weaknesses very quickly at this level because of all the video and they see you."

Judge and Austin are in the position now that Severino was last summer. Austin received "150-something text messages" after Saturday's game. Judge said his message total also was in the triple digits, one of them from the family in Alaska that hosted him during summer ball five years ago.

"I don't think you can expect a homer every day. I think that would be a record," Girardi said, laughing. "It seems like every time he hits the ball in the air, people get excited."

LEFT BEHIND

Two days after his final game with the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez's gear and personal belongings were still in his locker along with his nameplate and No. 13 on his chair.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: 1B Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup for the second straight day. Girardi said Teixeira was banged up and could use consecutive days off. ... RHP Bryan Mitchell (left big toe), on the DL since spring training, allowed three runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings for Tampa at Daytona on Saturday night in his second rehab start.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Chad Green (1-2) will be recalled from Scranton to start Monday's series opener against Toronto and R.A. Dickey (8-12). Green, who had been sent down Aug. 4, will be making his fifth start and ninth appearance of the year for New York.

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