Friday MLB Preview – Yankees at Rays

The top two teams in the AL East division get ready to battle in a three-game series this weekend.

New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

New York is set to make its first trip to Tampa Bay since owner George Steinbrenner passed away on July 13.  The former owner resided in the town and was planning on attending this series in person.  With anticipated sell outs throughout the weekend, fans are also anticipating third baseman Alex Rodriguez hitting his 600th home run in the series.  He was 3-for-17 in a four-game series in Cleveland this week and is enjoying the team’s recent performance.  “We’re winning, so this is fun,” Rodriguez said.  “I’m focusing on something more important:  a pennant race.”  The Yankees are a season-high 29 games over .500 and are 23-7-2 in series play this season.  New York has won 17 of its last 22 games and 18 of 23.  The team is 2-1 in dome games this season and 19-13 the last three years (+420).

Yankees starting pitcher Phil Hughes is 12-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts this season, as the team has alternated wins and losses in his last three outings.  Over that span, he has allowed 10 runs and 21 hits over 17.1 innings.  The right-hander has made four starts this month, posting a 2-1 record and 5.79 ERA.  Hughes tallied an impressive 11-2 record and 3.65 ERA in 16 starts prior to the All-Star break, but is 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA in two outings since.  In seven career appearances (two starts) against the Rays, he stands at 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA, including an even 1-1 mark and 2.35 ERA at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay will look to tie its second-high win streak of seven games tonight, as the club has won 19 of 25 games since June 30 and are a season-best 25 games over .500.  At the 100-game mark, they are eight games ahead of last season and three ahead of their 2008 pace.  “We’re winning games right now,” said starting pitcher Wade Davis.  “That’s good.  We’re fighting.”  The season series between the Rays and Yankees is tied at 4-4 and the home team is 40-62 all-time against the Bronx Bombers at Tropicana Field.  Tampa Bay has been a home underdog of +100 to +125 just once this season and has posted a 11-7 mark the last three seasons (+480).

Rays starting pitcher Wade Davis is 8-9 with a 4.32 ERA in 19 starts, managing to strike out 69 batters and issue 44 walks in 108.1 innings.  The right-hander has picked up three consecutive victories, surrendering just five runs and 18 hits over 21.1 innings.  Before his recent run, Davis had dropped five consecutive starts.  He is 4-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 10 home starts this season, giving up 11 home runs in 59.2 frames.  In three career outings versus the Yankees, he is 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA.

Bettors must respect the road team’s 43-22 record against right-handed starters in this matchup (+810), with the total being 34-27 O/U in those contests.  Tampa Bay is 41-28 versus righties this year (-290), but fall flat when playing on Fridays (2-13, -2,060).

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