The guys go for the sweep against the Yankees this afternoon. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After winning the first two games of the series against the Evil Empire, the Tampa Bay Rays look for a sweep of the Bronx Bombers afternoon, at Tropicana Field.

Moments that mattered from Saturday’s game

— Wilmer Font shut down one of baseball’s most potent offenses on Saturday, stymying a silent Yankees team.

Font threw 5-2/3 solid innings — his longest outing in the Majors — and allowed just three hits, walking just one and striking out four. It was the 28-year-old’s first big league victory (in his 26th appearance and fourth start). He has progressively increased the length of his appearances, from 2-1/3 innings to 3-1/3 to 4-2/3 and now 5-2/3.

It’s exciting, and I’m very happy, said Font, who was acquired by the Rays on May 25 and is playing with his third organization (Dodgers, Athletics) this season. I was trying to attack from the start. The first pitch was very important. After that, work the corners. I felt very, very good today.

While there is still a lot of work for him to do, as Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) writes, Font may turn out to be a steal for the Rays off the discard pile given his physical tools, maturity and hunger at age 28 to finally succeed.

— In the first inning, Kevin Kiermaier led off with a single — his first hit since being reinstated from the disabled list, snapping an 0-13 skid — and scored on Jake Bauers’ opposite-field double to left.

— In the second inning, C.J. Cron and Daniel Robertson hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the inning. Robertson then reached third on Mallex Smith’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Willy Adames’ single. Why was it important, aside from the obvious?

Cron turned on a knee high fastball over the inside part of the plate and pulled it down the left field line. When he’s going well, that’s a pitch he doesn’t miss as he had over the span of his 1-31 skid.

— In the third inning, Brett Gardner lifted a one-out fly ball into short center field that seemed destined to drop in front of Kevin Kiermaier. But after a long run, Kiermaier slid and made the spectacular catch.

— Up by three in the seventh, Adames gave the Rays an insurance run by hitting an opposite field homer.

— The Yankees, who lost back-to-back games for the first time since May 22 and 23 (vs. TEX), have scored just two runs in their past 27 innings. It was only the second time this season they have been shut out. More proof that if you negate the power of players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorious, even a team like the Yankees becomes beatable. That is a lesson that Tampa Bay will need to take into the upcoming series’ against the Nationals and Astros.

The New What Next

The Rays originally planned to start left-hander Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48) this afternoon, however, they instead will have a bullpen day and use right-hander Matt Andriese as the “opener,” tasking him with getting the first 3-6 outs. Meanwhile, they’ll face fast-rising Yankees rookie Domingo German (2-4, 4.77 ERA), who earned his first win of the season against Tampa Bay earlier this month.

Over the last 15 appearances (two starts) Andriese has a 2.55 ERA, lowering his overall ERA from 8.31 to 3.68 in the process.

German will make his ninth start of the season in the series finale against the Rays. Last time out, the righty pitched a career-high seven innings, allowing just a solo home run and two hits to the Mariners. German (2-4) earned the win against the Mariners on Tuesday, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits across seven innings. He walked none and recorded nine punch outs. This season German has relied primarily on a whiffy 83 mph 12-6 curveball and a hard 96 mph four-seam fastball that generates plenty of swings and misses, while also mixing in an 88 mph changeup with obvious armside fade, and a 96 mph sinker with natural sink. Key Matchups: Willy Adames (1-3), Matt Duffy (2-3, HR, RBI), Wilson Ramos (1-3, RBI), Joey Wendle (1-3, RBI)

You can read about the series in our preview.

The New What Next: Rays vs Yankees part three — a series preview

Rays 6/24/18 Starting Lineup

Kiermaier CF
Duffy DH
Bauers 1B
Wendle 3B
Gomez RF
Smith LF
Hechavarria SS
Sucre C
Adames 2B
Andriese RHP

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