On Tuesday night, the Yankees handed Tampa Bay's winless David Price his second loss of the young season. They did it with a spirited two-run, ninth-inning rally against Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, and relief ace Fernando Rodney, last year's AL Comeback Player of the Year.

On Wednesday night, with Rodney again on the mound in the ninth and runners on second and third, and trailing, 3-0, the Yanks were poised for more magic, but went down without a whimper. The Rays and young Alex Cobb won, 3-0.

There was no Alex Rodriguez or Curtis Granderson or Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira around to drive in the runs. They're on the lengthy disabled list, their return not in sight. And for this series at Tropicana Field -- the Rays won two of three -- Kevin Youkilis was on the shelf with an aching lower back. He should be back Thursday.

Aside from a few familiar faces, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been coping with his injury-riddled roster and sending out to battle an assortment of, well, Major League retreads -- the likes of Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, Ben Francisco, Brennan Boesch, et al.

And that's where the negatives end.

Yes, the defending AL East champs flew back to New York late Wednesday night having lost twice to the Rays, who after a depressing 2-7 road trip, jetted off to Chicago after winning five of six against the Athletics and Yanks at the Trop.

Even with the two losses, the Yankees are playing better than anyone expected. They were to open a 10-game homestand Thursday night against Toronto at Yankee Stadium, resting in third place, just 2 1/2 games behind first-place Boston. They should have been buried by now.

The Yanks are 10-5 over their last 15 games, tied with the Red Sox for the best record in the AL over that stretch.