NEW YORK -- Cameron Maybin's consistent refrain has been that he will not waste energy worrying about things that are out of his control, such as the security of his roster spot. The veteran outfielder prefers to let his performance speak for itself, and with each big swing, the Yankees’
NEW YORK -- Cameron Maybin's consistent refrain has been that he will not waste energy worrying about things that are out of his control, such as the security of his roster spot. The veteran outfielder prefers to let his performance speak for itself, and with each big swing, the Yankees’ looming decision seems to grow more difficult.
With Aaron Judge set to rejoin the big league roster as soon as Friday, Maybin homered for a fourth consecutive game on Tuesday night, helping to lead the Yankees to a 6-3 victory over the Rays at Yankee Stadium. Edwin Encarnacion added his first blast as a Yankee as the Bombers cleared the fences for a 21st straight game, the longest home run streak in the Majors this season.
• Box score
"I’m thankful that I’m here,” Maybin said. “I’m enjoying every moment of it, and I just want to continue to be a piece of the puzzle and continue to play good baseball."
The Yankees remain tight-lipped on how they will solve their upcoming roster crunch, though when general manager Brian Cashman outlined the outfield on Monday in the wake of Encarnacion’s acquisition, he did not mention Maybin’s name. Instead, Cashman’s envisioned outfield consisted of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Judge, with Brett Gardner as the extra player off the bench.
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Even with Judge slugging a homer with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday in northeastern Pennsylvania, could Maybin’s surge change that plan? Manager Aaron Boone has repeatedly expressed a preference for carrying a 13-man pitching staff, though the 32-year-old Maybin is out of Minor League options and likely would be claimed if exposed to waivers.
“We’ll see where we are as we kind of work our way through this,” Boone said. “Obviously those decisions are getting [close]. We don’t have to make any tonight or tomorrow, so we’ll just keep working through it, keep talking through and try and do what’s best for everyone.”
Maybin is the first Yankee to homer in four straight games since Gleyber Torres last May, and the first Yanks outfielder to do so since Danny Tartabull in 1992. Crediting Yankees hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere for helping him drive the ball in the air more frequently, Maybin said that he has been able to block out the noise.
"Once you step on the field, you get to do what you love, and that's playing baseball,” Maybin said. “As long as I'm here, as long as I get an opportunity to step on the field with a group of guys who I feel are my brothers, I'm going to continue to go out and play hard each and every day and leave it all out there."
The Yankees’ franchise record for consecutive games with a home run is 25, set by the 1941 club. The Major League record is 27, established by the 2002 Rangers.
Maybin’s seventh-inning blast came off Oliver Drake after New York grabbed the lead with three runs in the fifth, stringing four straight hits off Chaz Roe. DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Gary Sánchez stroked run-scoring hits in that frame, boosting starter J.A. Happ into position to improve to 6-0 in his last eight starts.
“It’s a tough team to score runs against. You have to do a lot of things well,” Boone said. “The handful of mistakes you get, hopefully some of our guys will take advantage with the long ball. But when we can create traffic, some big hits go a long way.”
Happ had to grind in order to hold Tampa Bay to two runs over five innings, with Mike Zunino and Avisail Garcia collecting run-scoring hits. After Adam Ottavino hurled a scoreless sixth, Tommy Kahnle permitted a seventh-inning run but pitched out of trouble by recording two strikeouts and inducing a soft groundout. Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for his 19th save.
“I was just trying to focus out there,” Happ said. “I know I had a good changeup in the first inning, and the second inning, I wasn't quite letting it go the same. I got myself into a little bit of a jam there. I was able to work out of it for the most part, just trying to execute with Gary back there. He did a nice job, and the bullpen came in and did their thing, too.”
Encarnacion’s eighth-inning shot came off Andrew Kittredge, marking the slugger’s American League-leading 22nd homer. Boone cracked that it was nice to see Encarnacion’s “parrot” home run trot on the Yankees’ side for a change, and the home dugout delighted in mimicking the slugger’s trademark as he rounded the bases.
“It feels great. It feels better when you win,” Encarnacion said. “It’s all about having fun. That’s what we need. Have fun and play the game right.”
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.