Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/16/12

The New York Yankees have lived and died by the long ball for much of the season. An ability to consistently manufacture runs and a reliance on homers have been the overriding offensive factors in New York falling back to the pack in the AL East race since mid-July.

As Nick Swisher put it, the Yanks found the right mix of "small ball and Bronx ball" in Sunday's crucial 6-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, which kept them one game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East before a scheduled off day Monday.

"We've talked about playing better baseball," manager Joe Girardi said, "and we're starting to do that. It's extremely important this time of year."

Russell Martin ripped a three-run homer to cap a five-run rally in the third inning Sunday, but the first two runs of that uprising were borne from a walk and stolen base by young speedster Eduardo Nunez -- his first of three steals in the game -- and a key sacrifice bunt by Swisher, a little-used bit of strategy this season for Girardi and the Yanks.

"When we get small ball and Bronx ball going back and forth, it's a good thing going for us," Swisher said.

"Everyone wants to call bunting small ball, but I think it's more than bunting," Girardi said. "It just brings an element that you can create runs, and that's really important for clubs."

Alex Rodriguez also stole a base in the third inning, and the aging slugger leads the Yanks this season with 13 swipes in 14 attempts.

"Just trying to think small," A-Rod said. "We had probably the best offensive inning we've had all year. ... That's as good as it gets for us. Hopefully we can feed off that."

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