The Tampa Bay Rays will welcome the New York Yankees into the Trop once again, this time for a three game set. As with the last series, the Rays will try to hold their ground in the AL East, and the Yankees will attempt to stay relevant. The Evil Empire has gotten relatively hot, winning eight of their last 10 games, while the Rays are 6-4 in the same stretch.
Hiroki Kuroda: Per Rotowire, “Kuroda gave up five runs (three earned) on 11 hits and zero walks, while striking out six over 5.2 innings, in a loss to the Red Sox on Saturday.” The Rays have yet to face the Yankees 38 year-old RHP in 2013. Kuroda is 2-1 with a 6.11 ERA against Tampa Bay extending back to 2010. Kuroda has given up 14 runs (12 earned) in 17-1/3 innings of work in that span, while the Rays have tagged him for a .290 OBA. Key match-ups: Desmond Jennings (3-9, RBI), Kelly Johnson (7-19, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB), Matt Joyce (2-8, HR, RBI, BB), Jose Lobaton (2-6, 2 2B, 2 BB), Ben Zobrist (2 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB).
CC Sabathia: Per Rotowire, “Sabathia gave up six earned runs on seven hits over 5.1 innings Sunday against Boston. He walked five, struck out five, and picked up his 11th win of the year.” Capital L LOVE CC Sabathia…for all the obvious reasons. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (10-33, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 3 BB), Sam Fuld (3-11, 3B, 3 RBI, BB), Kelly Johnson (5-15), James Loney (5-15, HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (19-50, 5 2B, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 12 BB), Wil Myers (3-6, HR, 5 RBI), Sean Rodriguez (13-39, 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB).
Ivan Nova: Per Rotowire, “Nova pitched 6.1 innings of four-run ball to earn the win in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Toronto. He gave up nine hits and two walks, striking out two.” Tampa Bay is 2-1 against Nova this season, though they’ve only tagged the Yankees RHP for four runs in 13-2/3 innings of work. Key match-ups: Desmond Jennings (6-19, 2B, 3B, BB), James Loney (4-6, BB), Wil Myers (2-7, 2B), Sean Rodriguez (5-12, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI).
- Here here to Yahoo Sports, “Simply focused on trying to beat the New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays won’t let the presence of Alex Rodriguez be a distraction during this key weekend series.” They went on to note, “Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon won’t feed the fire or tell his pitchers to intentionally throw at Rodriguez like Boston’s Ryan Dempster did Sunday. “Vigilante justice and unilateral decisions, I’m not into that stuff,” Maddon told the Rays’ official website. “That is totally separate from the unwritten rules of baseball.”
- The Yankees have averaged 5.4 runs and hit 21 homers while batting .290 in 17 games since Rodriguez made his 2013 debut.
- Tampa Bay has won six of eight overall and 18-of-23 at home.
- Per Marc Topkin of the Times, “Despite the circus atmosphere accompanying the return of suspended-but-appealing 3B Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees actually are playing better (11-6 overall, 10 wins in their past 12), racking up runs and battling to get back into the playoff race. Plus, OF Curtis Granderson has returned from the disabled list, OF Alfonso Soriano has been a productive pickup, and INF/DH Mark Reynolds was added for depth. SS Derek Jeter could come off the DL on Saturday. The back of the bullpen, led by Mariano Rivera, can be dominant, leaving starting pitching as the primary concern, though the Yankees are using their three best this weekend: RHP Hiroki Kuroda, LHP CC Sabathia and RHP Ivan Nova.”
- Tampa Bay leads the season series 7-6, while the Yankees lead 164-105 overall. New York is 64-77 at the Trop.
We’ll post more later.