MLB Predictions 2012: Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees

The Tampa Bay Rays (78-66) and New York Yankees (81-63) will continue an important American League East series on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:05 ET

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

The New York Yankees are trying to hold off the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East standings

Tampa Bay earned a much-needed 6-4 victory over New York on Friday night, as it gained a game in the AL playoff race.  The Rays were able to snap a three-game losing streak, while winning for just the fourth time in their last 17 one-run affairs.  “It was huge,” commented Rays catcher Chris Gimenez.  Offensively, the team is averaging five  runs per game in capturing six of its last eight meetings in this series, with outfielder B.J. Upton providing a spark in the lineup.  Tampa Bay is 27-22 in day games this year, while the “under” is 29-17 in that situation.

Rays starting pitcher James Shields (14-8, 3.71 ERA) has won four of his last five outings, coming off a 6-0 complete-game victory at home over the Texas Rangers, allowing just two hits and striking out eight.  The right-hander is 7-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 14 road outings, surrendering 13 home runs in 93 frames.  In 25 lifetime starts against the Yankees, Shields has compiled a 7-13 record and 4.52 ERA, including a 4-3 home win two outings ago.

New York is still tied atop the division standings with the Baltimore Orioles, but desperately needs one of its starters to step up with a big performance.  The Yankees are hoping to get just with the return of one of its key pitchers to the rotation.  Offensively, shortstop Derek Jeter is dealing with a bone bruise that caused manager Joe Girardi to insert him as last night’s designated hitter, as he went 2-for-5 with a run scored.  New York is 26-16 at home when the total is 9 to 9.5, with the “under” going 23-18 in that situation.

Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova (11-7, 4.92 ERA) is set to make his first appearance since Aug. 21, as he allowed 10 runs and 14 hits over 11.2 innings in his last two starts before landing on the disabled list.  The right-hander is 3-4 with a 6.18 ERA in 10 home outings, with opposing hitters batting .304 against him.  In seven games versus the Rays, Nova has registered a 4-1 record and 3.05 ERA.

Sports bettors will likely back the Yankees due to their 6-1 record in Nova’s seven outings against the Rays, while the road team has lost its last six chances in this ballpark with Shields on the hill.

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