When the Yankees signed Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran in the offseason, they would have hoped that by late July both would have close to double the amount of home runs they've hit thus far (11 and 12, respectively). But part of their weaker production has been masked and -- for all intents and purposes -- replaced by an unlikely source: Brett Gardner.
Gardner slugged his 13th home run of the season Tuesday-- his third in the last two nights -- good for second most on the Yankees behind Mark Teixeira's 17. Gardner, who has paired the long ball with 46 RBIs, eclipsed last year's career high of eight homers on July 13. Since then, he has feasted on Rangers pitching.
His last four home runs have come against Texas, three off Yu Darvish, including Monday's two-homer game. But even with the power display, manager Joe Girardi isn't shocked to see him tapping into his strength.
"I think players have it, but I think they learn how to use it better," said Girardi. "He's playing every day. He physically feels good. He's been able to stay away from some of the things, the nagging stuff that he's had before. Some years, guys just get more pitches to hit out of the ballpark. I've always felt that he could hit double digits."
Girardi added: "Believe me, he'll let people know, too."
Trying to end Gardner's -- and the Yankees' -- power outburst from Tuesday will be Colby Lewis, who has lost three straight starts, even with a 3.79 ERA in two outings since the All-Star break. More troubling though is his 8.04 ERA at home, which may break the Rangers' record for highest ERA at home for a qualifying pitcher since Kevin Gross posted a 6.35 ERA in 1995.
Lewis missed 18 months prior to this season because of hip and elbow surgery, but he is starting to really find his way back to full strength.
"I feel like this is the best I have felt all year," Lewis said. "I feel like I'm pretty strong. ... There is no more soreness in my hip, and no more soreness in my elbow. It's about going out there and getting it done."
The Yankees will ask Hiroki Kuroda to get them a series victory for the second time in a week. Kuroda wasn't very sharp against the Blue Jays in his last outing-- serving up two homers to Jose Bautista-- but still managed to last 5 2/3 innings to earn the win.
Yankees: Roberts getting rest to recharge
Brian Roberts has played in 91 games this season, marking his highest total since 2009, and Girardi said that the veteran second baseman may be wearing down as a result.
"I think that could possibly be going on," Girardi said. "He's been beat up pretty good this year, physically. He's answered the bell every day that we've called upon him, and he's played hard for us."
Roberts has two hits in his last 17 at-bats, and he has reported some aches and pains, according to Girardi, who said that he plans to give Roberts a couple of days off to see if he can recharge leading into the weekend series against the Red Sox.
"He's dealing with soreness that players have," Girardi said. "Legs get beat up, you hit balls off your feet, shins. It's all part of it."
Rangers: Arencibia gaining confidence
Rangers first baseman J.P. Arencibia has refound his confidence since returning to the Majors from Triple-A Round Rock on July 17, and it's been obvious in his play.
Arencibia has recorded at least one RBI in six of the past eight games (including a career-high seven Tuesday) and has four go-ahead hits since the All-Star break, which ties San Diego's Yasmani Grandal and Baltimore's Adam Jones for a Major League best.
"From the second half of last year, when I struggled, to the beginning of this year, [it] was kind of like you know you're in quicksand, you're trying to get out of it, you're trying to get out it," Arencibia said. "I was beating myself up at home, I was beating myself up on the drive to the field before things happened. I was mentally just so hard on myself."
Manager Ron Washington said the purpose of sending Arencibia down was so that he could get the at-bats he needed. Now that Arencibia is back in the Majors, Washington too has seen the mentality shift, both on and off the field.
"He does look confident," Washington said. "I think he knows he's going to swing and miss, but because he got those at-bats ... he knows he will play, and he's been having some success. It builds confidence."
• Derek Jeter will be honored by the Rangers before Wednesday's game. It likely will be his final appearance in Arlington.
• Leonys Martin has two home runs in just four career at-bats against Kuroda.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.