The Tampa Bay Rays continue their last chance 10-game home stand on Monday when they welcome the New York Yankees into Tropicana Field for a three-game series.
The two last faced one another about a week ago, when New York took two of three from Tampa Bay. Yet the Yankees only amassed a +5 run differential over the three games, meaning the Rays were more than capable of performing better than they had. Truth told, if it wasn’t for a pitching staff that was incapable of holding the lead in the final game of that set, we’d be talking about a series win for the Rays.
The Rays have won just two of their last six, while the Yankees damaged their AL East title hopes with a poor home stand. New York is 10-6 against the Tampa Bay.
Joe Girardi will start one of the worst pitchers in the AL, CC Sabathia, on Monday, and rookie sensation Luis Severino in the finale. A mystery hurler will throw in the middle game of the series. Kevin Cash will counter with Erasmo Ramirez, Jake Odorizzi, and Chris Archer.
Ramirez (10-5, 3.96 ERA) fanned nine Tigers on Tuesday. However, despite entering the sixth with a 5-1 lead, the righty couldn’t hold a four-run lead for the second consecutive start. Ramirez is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against the Yankees. Odorizzi (7-8, 3.21 ERA) collected a quality start Wednesday when he blanked the Tigers on six hits and a walk while striking out six to notch his seventh win of the season. He is 3-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 10 starts at Tropicana Field this season. Archer (12-11, 2.95 ERA) got a no-decision Friday despite striking out seven consecutive batters (at one point) and allowing three runs on five hits. He lost his last start to the Yankees after relinquishing four earned runs in 6-1/3 innings on September 6.
CC Sabathia (4-9, 5.16 ERA) has gone 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA in eight outings since the All-Star break. He pitched Wednesday for the first time since August 23, wearing a new, tighter brace that better holds the ligaments in place in his surgically repaired right knee. He gave up three runs over 4-2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Baltimore. The southpaw is 6-13 with a 4.47 ERA in 26 starts against Tampa Bay since joining the Yankees in 2009. New York is 3-10 in his starts at Tropicana Field. Key matchups: Joey Butler (1-3, HR), Asdrubal Cabrera (5-14, 2B, HR, RBI, BB), Logan Forsythe (6-12, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Evan Longoria (24-61, 8 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 13 BB), Grady Sizemore (3-10, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), Steven Souza Jr. (1-2, BB).
Luis Severino (3-3, 3.35 ERA) held the Rays to one run over 6-1/3 innings on September 9, although he was hammered to the tune of six runs on six hits in just 2-1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Friday. As I previously wrote of the righty, Severino relies primarily on his 96 mph four-seam fastball and 90 mph slider, also mixing in an 89 mph change-up. It will be interesting to see what the Rays can do against the highly touted hurler the second time facing him. Key matchups: Asdrubal Cabrera (1-2, BB), Logan Forsythe (1-3), James Loney (2-2, BB), Evan Longoria (1-2, HR, RBI), Daniel Nava (1-3, 2B), Grady Sizemore (1-4).
― This is the final meeting of the regular season so expect both teams to try and get big wins over their division rivals.