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04/06/08 7:04 PM ET

Damon aims to amp up offense

New York (3-3) vs. Tampa Bay (3-2), Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET

Johnny Damon has taken it upon himself to cure the Yankees' offensive woes.

He's batting only .136 on the season, hardly the sparkplug the Yankees need him to be. And it's no coincidence that the Yankees -- ballyhooed lineup, and all -- have averaged just 2.8 runs over the season's first six games. That starts at the top, or, as Damon says, "When I go, this team goes a lot smoother."

"Hopefully," Damon added, "you'll see a lot more hitting from us as the season goes on. We're learning how to win some close games right now, which we weren't able to do so much last year. That being said, we plan to score some runs here soon."

The Yankees have done a decent job of winning despite their offensive struggles, earning three victories by a combined margin of four runs. Chien-Ming Wang was able to win in spite of low run support on Sunday, and the Yankees only hope that Mike Mussina, Monday's starter, can, too.

With a bit more offensive support, Mussina might have won a season debut in which he allowed four runs (three earned) against the Blue Jays last week. That's been something of a trend for these Yankees, who have yet to give their starting pitchers any sort of margin for error. If New Yorks wants to continue to win, that must change.

"The plan is to score more runs, but this won't be our only six-game stretch where we don't swing the bats well," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "That happens throughout the course of the year, but you have to find ways to win when you're not scoring runs."

Mussina on Monday will face Rays right-hander Jason Hammel, who beat the Yankees once in three starts last season.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Mike Mussina (0-1, 4.76 ERA)
Mussina's first start of the season wasn't quite the improvement over last year for which he had hoped. Leaving in the sixth inning after allowing four runs (three earned), Mussina eventually took the loss in a 5-2 defeat. He'll aim for his first win in the series finale against the Rays, a team that pounded him for nine runs and 18 hits in 10 2/3 innings last season. For his career, Mussina is 16-7 against the Rays.

TB: RHP Jason Hammel (3-5, 6.14 ERA in 2007)
Heavy rains in Baltimore postponed Hammel's season debut last week, so he'll instead take the mound for the first time against the Yankees. He might have drawn an easier assignment, though Hammel showed a certain aptitude for pitching at Yankee Stadium last summer, winning once in two starts with a 3.00 ERA.

Alex Rodriguez has two home runs in nine career at-bats against Hammel, driving in six runs. ... Reliever Joba Chamberlain has now allowed just one run in 28 career innings, striking out 38. ... Left-hander Andy Pettitte said he felt no ill effects one day after his first start of the season. Pettitte had opened the season on the disabled list with back spasms.

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On the Internet
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•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

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Up next
• Tuesday: Yankees (Phil Hughes, 0-0, 3.00) at Royals (Brian Bannister, 1-0, 0.00), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-1, 23.14) at Royals (Zack Greinke, 1-0, 1.29), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 0-1, 5.40) at Royals (John Bale, 0-1, 5.68), 8:10 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.