Baseball Picks: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays AL Wild Card Race

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays continue a three-game American League East series Tuesday night inside Tropicana Field.

New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have drawn even with the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race

New York has dropped two consecutive games since wrapping up home-field advantage through the AL playoff rounds, while watching tonight’s opponent even things up in the Wild Card race.  “I actually saw one of their players look at the scoreboard when there was a loud cheer today,” commented Yankees manager Joe Girardi.  “That probably wouldn’t happen on a normal day.”  The Yankees are likely to continue resting players due to playing 33 games over the final 32 days when the regular season comes to an end Wednesday.  The club is also now 28-26 in series openers, but could bounce back due to a 35-16 mark in the second game.  New York is 45-34 on the road and 39-24 following a loss.

Yankees starting pitcher Bartolo Colon is 8-10 with a 4.02 ERA in 28 outings (25 starts) this season and is searching for his first win since July 30.  The right-hander is coming off an embarrassing outing, giving up seven runs (five earned) and seven hits over three innings of work in a 15-8 home loss to tonight’s opponent.  He is 4-5 with a 3.45 ERA in 15 road outings, registering 73 strikeouts in 86 frames.  Colon will be facing the Rays for the 22nd time in his career, coming in with a 9-5 record and 3.98 ERA.

Tampa Bay has compiled a 15-8 record since it was nine games out of a playoff berth on Sept. 2, while also going 30-17 when sitting 10 games back in the Wild Card race on Aug. 7.  “Our fate’s in our own hands now,” commented Rays starting pitcher James Shields.  “We don’t have to worry about the Red Sox losing now.”  The Rays are 7-9 versus the Yankees this season after Monday night’s 5-2 win and have tallied the most wins ever by a team that started a season 1-8.  Tampa Bay is 40-30 versus the division and 45-34 at Tropicana Field.

Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is 13-10 with a 2.90 ERA in 28 starts this season and will be looking to lead the club to wins in four of his last five outings.  He is coming off a no-decision effort against the Yankees, giving up two runs and two hits over seven frames in a 4-2 road loss.  The right-hander has a winning 6-5 mark and 2.41 ERA in 13 home starts, as opponents are hitting just .201 against him.  In five career outings (three starts) versus the Yankees, Hellickson is 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA, including a 3-2 home win over Colon on July 19 (7 IP, 2 ER).

Bettors will likely back the Rays due to their 6-1 record in Hellickson’s last seven home starts, while the Yankees are 2-5 in Colon’s last seven outings away from Yankee Stadium.

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