The New York Yankees (76-57) and Tampa Bay Rays (73-61) will open up an important three-game American League East series on Monday afternoon at Tropicana Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET
New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
New York has held sole possession of first place in the AL East for nearly three months, but now find themselves in a serious pennant race due to going 2-4 in a stretch of 22 straight games against division rivals. “We need to play better baseball,” commented Yankees manager Joe Girardi. The Bronx Bombers could receive a major lift with the return of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list with a broken left hand. Second baseman Robinson Cano should also supply some pop, batting .426 in 68 career at-bats against Monday’s opposing starter. New York is 2-9 in its last 11 road games versus winning teams.
Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.40 ERA) suffered an 8-5 home loss to the Toronto Blue Jays last time out, allowing five runs (two earned) and nine hits over seven frames. The left-hander is 7-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 road outings, issuing 21 walks and striking out 74 batters in 81.2 innings. In 27 career games versus the Rays, Sabathia has compiled a 10-8 record and 3.09 ERA, but has gone 3-7 with a 3.56 ERA in 16 starts since joining the Bronx Bombers.
Tampa Bay returns home off a disappointing 3-4 road trip, but did capture a 9-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. The Rays offense is ready to roll in a very important series, as it finished with a season-high 18 hits, with each starter getting at least one in the lineup. The club actually outscored the Blue Jays and Rangers by a 28-23 combined margin in those seven contests.
Rays starting pitcher James Shields (12-8, 3.91 ERA) had his personal four-game win streak snapped in a 1-0 road setback to the Texas Rangers, giving up a single run and three hits over seven frames. The right-hander is 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 13 home starts, surrendering nine home runs in 89 combined innings. In 24 career games versus the Yankees, Shields has registered a 6-13 mark and 4.58 ERA.
Sports bettors will likely back the Rays due to their 4-0 record in Shields’ last four starts in the series, while the Yankees have suffered four losses in Sabathia’s last four efforts at this ballpark.