The Rays will attempt to bury the Yankees — consequently relegating them to their rightful place at the bottom of the AL East — in a three-game set in the Bronx, starting Friday. Tampa Bay is coming off a franchise tying eighth consecutive series victory, following the aborted game four in Boston, Thursday.
On the subject of Boston, we wouldn’t be talking about a rain delay or rainout, if that tin can of a stadium in Boston had a roof —retractable, or otherwise. Seriously, next time some Masshole rags on the Trop, kindly remind them that our field may have its disadvantages, but at least we don’t have rain delays and/or rainouts seemingly every series.
The aborted game will be made up this coming Monday, July 29th at 6:10 PM. As it stands, the Rays will decide whether to start David Price or Roberto Hernandez against the Red Sox Monday, with the other facing the Diamondbacks Tuesday. Now, back to the subject at hand: The Rays/Yankees series preview.
The Yankees are anticipating a bolstered offense with the recent acquisition of Alfonso Soriano, and the highly anticipated return of Derek Jeter. However, they will be facing a very tough and confident pitching staff that’s posted a cool 2.36 ERA over the last 30 days.
CC Sabathia: Per Rotowire, “Sabathia and pitching coach Larry Rothschild found a flaw in Sabathia’s delivery while reviewing video Tuesday, the New York Post reports.” You know how we love watching the Rays butt heads with Sabathia. The Yankees struggling starter is 1-2 with a 7.29 ERA in three starts versus the Rays this season, giving up five runs in seven innings in his last start against the Rays on June 22nd. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (9-31, 3 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 2 BB), Kelly Johnson (5-15), Jose Lobaton (3-11, 2 RBI, BB), James Loney (4-12, HR, 2 RBI), Evan Longoria (18-47, 4 2B, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 12 BB), Wil Myers (2-3, HR, 4 RBI), Sean Rodriguez (11-36, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 BB).
Ivan Nova: Per Rotowire, “Nova lost to the Rangers Monday as he pitched seven innings and allowed three runs, seven hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts.” At 5-1 with a 3.04 ERA against the Rays extending back to 2010, Ivan Nova has been a hough nut to crack. However, Tampa Bay was able to beat him back in June in a 6-2/3 IP/7 H/3 R outing. Key match-ups: Desmond Jennings (5-15, 2B, 3B, BB), James Loney (2-4), Wil Myers (1-3), Sean Rodriguez (5-12, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI).
Phil Hughes: Per Rotowire, “Hughes allowed three runs — all unearned — on four hits and three walks over 5.2 innings Tuesday against the Rangers.” The Rays weren’t quite the offensive juggernaut the last time they faced Hughes in July. In that outing, Tampa Bay tagged the Yankees RHP for all of two-runs on six hits. Since then, Hughes has given up three or more runs six times — five of which culminated in a Yankees loss. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (7-19, 2 2B, RBI, BB), Matt Joyce (5-13, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB), James Loney (3-6), Evan Longoria (5-19, 2B, RBI, 3 BB), Luke Scott (8-16, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB).
- Per Yahoo Sports, “Hellickson is 5-0 with a 2.19 ERA over his last six starts after giving up two runs in five innings of Saturday’s 4-3 win at Toronto. The right-hander, 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts versus New York, last faced the Yankees when he allowed three hits in 8 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win April 8, 2012.”
- Wil Myers is 18-for-36 in his last nine games, and went went 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs against Sabathia on June 22.
- Per Steve Kinsella of DRaysBay, “The Yankees have an all-time record against the Rays of 163-103, 89-42 at home, and 24-16 at new Yankee Stadium. This will be the 4th series of the season between the two teams with the season series all even at 5-5. The Rays have won 11 of the last 20 contests overall and are 19-13 head to head dating back to September 22, 2011. The Yankees have won 12 of their last 18 and 14 of the last 21 home meetings between the clubs.”
- Alfonso Soriano’s belted eight home runs in July. By comparison, the Yankees have mustered an AL-worst seven.
- Mike Axisa of CBS Sports gives the Rays a B grade (modesty will get you nowhere, Mike) on the week, saying, “The Rays came into the week as the hottest team in baseball — they’d won 17 of their last 19 games — but they still had some doubters because most of that damage came against bad teams. The four-game series against the Red Sox in Boston would be a litmus test, and they responded by taking two of three before the series finale was rained out. Lefties Matt Moore and David Price deserve an individual “A” — they threw complete games in the two wins. Moore twirled a two-hit shutout, Price a one-run, five-hitter.”