New York Yankees-Tampa Bay Rays Series Preview

July 27, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

The Yankees went 9-1 on their first homestand of the second half but now hit the road for nine games as they look to hold onto a 2.5 game lead in the AL East.

New York opens up with three important games against the Tampa Bay Rays, who trail the Yanks by just 6.5.

Let’s take a look at the pitching match-ups for the series.


Monday, July 27 – A.J. Burnett (9-4, 3.74) vs. James Shields (6-6, 3.70)

Burnett turned in his seventh straight quality start with a seven-inning, two-run victory  over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.  He’s 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA over that span and hasn’t lost since June 20th. 

That streak should continue because the right-hander has had a good amount of success against the Rays this season.  He surrendered just two runs in eight innings, while striking out nine in a 7-2 win on April 14th, and earned a no decision when he gave up three runs in six innings on May 6th.

Carl Crawford is just about the only Tampa Bay batter to have any success against Burnett, going 14-for-42 with two doubles and a homer in his career.  The Yankee pitcher has been able to tame most of the other threats in the lineup, though, including Pat Burrell (9-for-39), B.J. Upton (5-for-22), Evan Longoria (3-for-16) and Carlos Pena (3-for-24).

Shields is 0-1 over his past six starts, but he shut the Yanks out through eight innings the last time he faced them back on Sept. 13th, 2008.  That was the right-hander’s first career win against New York, going along with six losses and a 5.73 ERA.

The Bombers hit Shields well.  Look for Hideki Matsui (7-for-16, 3 homers) and Robinson Cano (9-for-21, 5 XBH) to bat fifth and sixth in the lineup behind Derek Jeter (10-for-26) and Johnny Damon (6-for-18, 2 home runs).  Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are just a combined 4-for-26 against Shields, though.

Prediction: Yankees 5, Rays 3


Tuesday, July 28 – CC Sabathia (10-6, 3.67) vs. Scott Kazmir (4-6, 6.69)

Sabathia turned in his second straight solid outing last Thursday, surrendering three runs in seven innings in a victory over the Oakland Athletics, but his last start against the Rays wasn’t as good.  The left-hander gave up five runs, four of which were earned, on five hits, two homers, and three walks in eight innings as New York lost 9-7.

That was an unusual effort for CC, who usually handes the Rays (7-1, 2.63), but most of those starts came before Tampa Bay’s recent climb up the American League ranks.

The entire Rays roster is hitting just .238 against Sabathia, but Jason Bartlett has had a bit of success, picking up nine hits, including two doubles and a home run, in twenty nine at bats against the big man.  The same cannot be said for Carl Crawford (7-for-29) and Carlos Pena (4-for-25).

This could be Kazmir’s final start in a Rays uniform as the Los Angeles Angels are looking to acquire the struggling left-hander.  The 25-year-old, is having by far his worst year in the majors, sporting a horrid 1.72 WHIP and having given up at least five runs in seven of his last twelve starts.

One of Kazmir’s better games this season came against the Yankees on April 13th, when he surrendered just three runs in 6.2 innings and picked up the win.  But this is nothing new for the two-time All-Star, who has racked up an impressive 2.65 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) against New York.

The current Yankees are hitting just .218 against Kazmir, who sports victims such as A-Rod (2-for-21), Jeter (4-for-31, 9 Ks), Cano (3-for-20), Nick Swisher (4-for-24), Matsui (4-for-23), and Damon (6-for-33). 

But Melky Cabrera (6-for-15) should be in the lineup for this one and look for Jorge Posada (10-22, 3 doubles) to be behind the plate.  Teixeira (5-for-6, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 4 walks) should also have a big day.

Prediction: Yankees 6, Rays 4


Wednesday, July 29 – Joba Chamberlain (6-2, 3.86) vs. Matt Garza (7-7, 3.68)

There’s always controversy around Joba.  Even though he’s put together two of his best starts of the year coming out of the break, talk remains about him being sent to the bullpen in September because of his ridiculous innings limit.  Do they expect him to be ready to start in the playoffs after spending a month as a reliever or does the front office plan on having Sergio Mitre start Game 4 of the ALDS?

I’m sure I’ll delve further into this issue in a future article, but as far as Wednesday is concerned Chamberlain will look to build on his past success against the Rays.  He gave up three runs in six innings on June 7th, and the entire Tampa Bay roster is hitting just .174 against the right-hander.

Garza was the Rays’ starter in that game back in June and gave up one run in five innings.  He also looked good against the Yankees back on April 14th, when he surrendered two runs over seven innings.

Look for Swisher (3-for-5, 2 homers) and Eric Hinske (2-for-4) to probably get the start in this one over Hideki Matsui (0-for-6) and possibly Melky Cabrera (1-for-7).

Garza allowed only two runs, struck out nine and walked none in a complete game victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Prediction: Rays 3, Yankees 2

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