Gator Mike lashed his 12th homer of the season on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

After winning four of five games on their most recent homestand, including a weekend sweep of the Phillies, the Tampa Bay Rays will start a four-game set against the New York Yankees on Memorial Day in the Bronx. The Yankees are coming off a sweep of their own, albeit a sweep by the Tigers.

Tampa Bay did what it is wont to do against Philadelphia: pitch well and come up big in key moments. They were able to scratch across three key runs against a very tough Zack Wheeler on Saturday, then rally late against former Ray José Alvarado. They also never trailed on Sunday, thanks in part to a couple of clutch homers by “Gator” Mike Zunino and Brett Phillips. All told, the Rays went a respectable 4-14 with runners in scoring position (.285 wRISP batting average) and scored nine two-out runs.

Tampa Bay has won 14 of the last 15 games overall. Gator Mike leads the team with 12 home runs, while the red-hot Austin Meadows has a team-leading 36 RBI on the season and 11 homers. The team has performed to a combined 136 wRC+ over the last two weeks and a 19.9 wRAA, and there really is no reason to believe that is an unsustainable amount of production.

The Yankees, frankly, looked awful against the Tigers, and have dropped five of their last six overall. Pitching has been their only saving grace, while the offense has been paltry at best. Over the last 14 days, the mighty Bronx Bombers have, well … bombed, posting a .333 SLG and a .088 ISO, scoring a robust 39 runs.

Heading into the series, the Rays have won six of the nine head-to-head matchups between these teams this season.

Pitching Probables

Over the next four days, Kevin Cash will turn to Rich Hill (3-2, 3.63 ERA), Tyler Glasnow (4-2, 2.57 ERA), Shane McClanahan (2-0, 3.29 ERA), and Ryan Yarbrough (2-3, 4.26 ERA). Aaron Boone is expected to counter with Jameson Taillon (1-3, 5.06 ERA), Domingo German (4-3, 3.06 ERA), Jordan Montgomery (2-1, 4.22 ERA), and Gerrit Cole (6-2, 1.78 ERA).

Rich Hill took a hard-luck loss against the Royals on Tuesday, giving up two runs on six hits across eight innings. He struck out a season-high 13 without walking a batter and coaxed 27 swings and misses. It’s the second time this season the veteran southpaw has fanned double-digit batters, and Hill fired 74 of 99 pitches for strikes (75% strike rate) in an impressive outing marred by a lack of run support. He’ll take a 3.63 ERA (down from 3.89 ERA), 1.02 WHIP, and a 3.41 K/BB across 52 innings into the series opener. Hill is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season.

Jameson Taillon allowed two hits and two walks while striking out four across five scoreless frames on Sunday against the White Sox. Taillon allowed at least three runs in each of his last three turns but recorded his first scoreless outing of the season against the ChiSox. Taillon has now posted a 5.06 ERA and a 4.16 K/BB in 42-2/3 innings to begin his campaign. Taillon is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in one 4-2/3 inning start against the Rays this season, an outing in which he served up four runs on six hits including a homer. Key Matchups: Yandy Díaz (2-2, 2B, 2 RBI), Brandon Lowe (1-2, 2B), Austin Meadows (2-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI)

Tyler Glasnow got back to his dominant self, blanking the Royals across eight innings which matched his longest start of the season. The right-hander allowed just three singles, two walks, and struck out 11 on an efficient 102 pitches (12.75 pitchers per inning), of which he threw 65 for strikes (64% strike rate). It was the sixth time this season Glasnow collected double-digit strikeouts. He also finished his outing with a 49% whiff rate on the 51 swings from Royals’ hitters, per Statcast. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in one outing against the Yankees this season.

Domingo German allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out five across 5-2/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Thursday. German made only a few mistakes in the loss, yet the Blue Jays took full advantage of them with a pair of home runs by Bo Bichette and Marcus Semien. German is having a solid season with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP across 50 innings, averaging just one walk per five innings pitched. Even so, he is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one four-inning start against the Rays this season in which he allowed four runs on eight hits including two homers. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (2-3, HR, RBI), Ji-Man Choi (1-4, HR, RBI), Yandy Díaz (1-4, HR, RBI), Austin Meadows (4-8, 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI), Francisco Mejía (1-2, 2 RBI), Joey Wendle (3-8, RBI)

Shane McClanahan allowed three hits and no walks while striking out six across five scoreless innings on Thursday against the Royals. McClanahan needed just 63 pitches (12.6 pitchers per innings) to record 15 outs, and he’s now completed at least five innings in three consecutive starts. McClanahan was also extremely deceptive, racking up 16 whiffs to back up his six punchouts. McClanahan has gotten off to a strong start to his big-league career, boasting a 3.29 ERA with a 4.57 K/BB across 27-1/3 innings. He has yet to face the Yankees.

Jordan Montgomery allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out a batter across 4-2/3 innings in a doubleheader against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Montgomery recently flashed his upside with an 11-strikeout gem against the White Sox, yet he’s also had a few letdowns this season. He enters the series with a 4.22 ERA and 1.11 WHIP on the season. Montgomery is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this season. Key Matchups: Mike Brosseau (2-7, HR, 2 RBI), Manuel Margot (4-9, 3 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Austin Meadows (2-8), Francisco Mejía (1-2, HR, RBI), Mike Zunino (2-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI)

Ryan Yarbrough got the start on Saturday and struck out eight Phillies while allowing two runs on three hits across 4-1/3 innings. He walked a pair. Yarbrough kept the Phillies off the board until Ronald Torreyes’ fifth inning two-RBI double with the bases loaded, which spelled the end to his afternoon. Yarbrough now has a 4.26 ERA (down from 4.27), a 1.21 WHIP, and a 3.92 K/BB over 57 innings this season. Yarbs is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA across 8-1/3 innings of work against the Yankees this season.

Gerrit Cole allowed one earned run on six hits and a walk while striking out five across six innings against the Tigers on Friday. The only run charged against Cole came in the third inning on a Jeimer Candelario single that scored Robbie Grossman. Cole has posted a quality start in nine of his 11 starts with his only bad outing coming against the Rangers in mid-May, when he surrendered five runs in five innings. Despite having just five punchouts Friday, Cole is fourth in all of baseball with a 12.4 K/9. Additionally, he leads the AL with a 1.78 ERA and a 10.78 K/BB through 70-2/3 innings this season. He is 1-1 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts against the Rays this season. Key Matchups: Ji-Man Choi (8-12, 3 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI), Yandy Díaz (7-18, HR, 2 RBI), Brett Phillips (1-4), Joey Wendle (4-16, 3B, 3 RBI)


— On Sunday, the Rays reinstated Luis Patiño from the 10-day IL and optioned him to Triple-A Durham. Patiño is expected to stay on a starter’s schedule in Durham and pitch regularly.

— Chaz Roe will begin a rehab assignment for the Durham Bulls on Tuesday.

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