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05/17/08 10:00 PM ET

Giambi turns to superstition to bust out

Yankees (20-23) vs. Mets (21-19), Sunday, 8:05 p.m. ET

NEW YORK -- The ultimate "go figure" moment of Jason Giambi's season came in the fourth inning on Saturday, when the Yankees first baseman dug in against Johan Santana and ripped a line drive about as hard as you can back up the middle.

By pure instinct, up went Santana's right hand, in went the baseball and Giambi was robbed of yet another early-season hit. These were the times that lucky slump-busting underwear was created for, it would seem.

"That's the hardest part of this game," Giambi said. "Even if you do everything perfect, it still doesn't guarantee your results. That's why it's one of the hardest games in the world to play. [Hitting coach] Kevin Long has been awesome, and my teammates have been awesome. It's almost been comical how hard I've hit the ball this year and not got a lot for it."

Then it should be little surprise that a player in a funk as long-standing as Giambi's -- he enters Sunday hitting .193 -- would try something a little different to get things flowing. The free-spirited Giambi watched something of a stir evolve this weekend after a publication printed a story about his "lucky" gold thong, which he uses under his uniform pants to get out of slumps.

But the article of clothing, questionable as its use may be, is nothing new in Giambi's world. Even Mike Mussina wanted in on the deal, scribbling, "Pitchers need thongs too," on the dry-erase board hanging from his locker.

The golden good-luck charm has hung in Giambi's locker at Yankee Stadium for his entire tenure in pinstripes, predating his arrival as a gift when he was playing with the Oakland A's. It worked then, and the Yankees can only hope it works now.

"I know sometimes you look at the numbers, and the numbers aren't where we expect they'll end up," manager Joe Girardi said. "He has been somewhat productive. He has home runs, and he has RBIs. His work and his ability to play day after day, diving after balls -- his approach, his at-bats, his health have been really good. His attitude has been tremendous."

It helped that Giambi slugged his eighth homer of the season on Saturday off Santana, getting some seventh-inning revenge with a shot to right field. The homer was Giambi's 185th as a Yankee, moving him past Charlie Keller and tying him with Paul O'Neill for 15th place on the franchise's all-time list.

The Yankee Stadium fans booed earlier this year when reliever LaTroy Hawkins came upon O'Neill's legacy, the reliever trying unsuccessfully to wear uniform No. 21. Chances are that no Yankees fans will be jeering Giambi if he's able to move O'Neill down a notch in the history books on Sunday against the Mets' John Maine.

"The human nature is that you want to change," Giambi said, "but Kevin Long has taken me in there and told me, 'There's nothing to change. You just keep lining out and hitting line drives. Eventually, over the long course of the year, hopefully, the results will come.'

"The biggest thing that we've got to do is just keep plugging along, and hopefully, turn it around. We'll put one win up and then hopefully, get two. We just need to put some wins on the board. Right now, we're not doing a good job of that."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (6-1, 2.90 ERA)
Wang narrowly avoided a tough-luck loss in his last start, which morphed into a tough-luck no-decision only because Hideki Matsui hit a ninth-inning homer to tie Tuesday's game against the Rays in St. Petersburg. Wang worked seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits, while walking three -- to tie a season high -- and striking out two. He wasn't especially pleased, but said it was "OK." Wang has faced the Mets once before in his career, last June 17 at Yankee Stadium, where he came one out shy of a complete game in the Yankees' 8-2 victory. Wang allowed two runs on six hits that night, walking one and striking out 10 to outduel Orlando Hernandez.

NYM: LHP Oliver Perez (3-3, 4.61 ERA)
For five innings last Sunday afternoon, Perez shut out the Reds -- who had amassed 29 hits in a doubleheader the previous day -- on one hit, three walks and a hit batsman. He struck out eight. But a six-batter sequence in the sixth produced three runs and ended his workday at 102 pitches. Perez has a 3-1 record and a 3.04 ERA in four career starts and 26 2/3 innings against the Yankees. He beat them twice last season, posting a 1.20 ERA.

The Yankees are 113-80 in Interleague Play and are 9-2 in their past 11 games aginst the National League at Yankee Stadium. ... The Yankees have hit seven home runs in their past two games. ... Derek Jeter has six multihit games in his past 12 contests and has a 16-game hitting streak against the Mets. ... Jeter is 4-for-12 lifetime against Perez with two doubles. His homer off Santana on Saturday made him just the second Yankees hitter this season to homer from the right side of the plate against a left-hander, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (Melky Cabrera has done it twice).

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 6-3, 3.99) vs. Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 4-1, 3.58), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 2-0, 3.00) vs. Orioles (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET

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