Tampa Bay Rays To Square Of With New York Yankees In Key AL East Series

July 26, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

A Look At This Year’s Series Competition:

The series between the Yankees and Rays is tied at 4-4 this season.  The first series was in Tampa early in the season (April 13-15) and the Yanks took two of three from the Rays. The lone win for the Rays came against Chien-Ming Wang and we all know about his struggles this year.

Afterwards, in May, the Rays took a two-game mini-sweep of the Yanks in the new Yankee Stadium.  Carlos Pena hit a game-winning home run in the 10th to win the game for the Rays; and then Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria went back-to-back with home runs against Mariano Rivera in the ninth to cap a 8-6 win.

A month later the Yanks took two of three from the Rays in a very close Bronx series. All three games were decided by two runs or less.  Grant Balfour gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth in one game and that capped a Yankees come-from-behind victory.


Inside the Numbers:

Here is where the teams rank in respective categories in the AL:

                AVG  | R  | HR | E   | SP ERA Total | RP ERA Total

NYY            2    |  1  | 1   | 9   |       8             | 10

TB              6    |  3   | 3   | 5   |      9             |  2

As you can see, the numbers are very close for each team. Due to a recent slump, the Rays offensive-numbers are way down now and the Yankees surge has propelled them to the top.

Anyway you look at it, there will be runs scored and the games should be very close just like they have been all year (except for the 15-5 TB win over Wang).


Looking Ahead to This Series:

The Yankees are playing some of their best baseball of the year right now. They have only lost one time since the All-Star break and almost came back and beat the A’s yesterday.

The Rays are playing is a bit inconsistent. They lost four of seven this week, but are 6-4 since the All-Star break.

As the Yankees offense is surging, the Rays is tremendously falling and has spiraled down to third in runs scored after they held the lead for most of the year.

Tampa’s offense is averaging about one run in each of their games this week. The Rays sit 6.5 games back of the first-place Yankees and four games back of the Red Sox in the Wild Card race.


Predicted Pitching Matchups:

Burnett(9-4) vs. Shields(6-6)

After a rocky start to the season, A.J. Burnett has fared incredibly well. He posted a 2.10 ERA in June and has a 3.08 ERA so far in July. But, this is what you get with A.J. Burnett—sometimes brilliance, sometimes disaster. He’s pitched two games against the Rays this year and is 1-0, with a 3.21 ERA and Tampa is only hitting .188 against him.

In terms of consistency, Shields has been the Rays best pitcher this year. After giving up a season-worst seven runs to the Royals, he pitched a gem against the White Sox going 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He has not faced the Yankees this year but dominated them last year, with a 1.77 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched.

Prediction: Even though Burnett has been pitching well, his name isn’t “Big Game James” for nothing. It should be a low scoring affair and recently the Rays have been getting wins in close games, so look for them to edge this one out in a 4-3 or 3-2 manner.


Sabathia (10-6) vs. Kazmir (4-6)

Sabathia has been rock solid all year, living up to the hype so far. He has a 3.67 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. This season he only has one start against the Rays and was tagged with the loss as he gave up four earned in eight innings. He was out-dueled by David Price.

Scott Kazmir has had the worst season of his career by far and was victimized by Mark Burehle’s perfect game in his last outing. He hasn’t pitched well since coming off the DL and still seems to be suffering from pain in his forearm. I’m not sure that he will make this start, however he won his game against the Yankees earlier this year giving up three runs in 6.2 innings.

Prediction: This game could get ugly. The Yankees will tag Kaz early and often as he still looks to get back to form. It will be a five or six-run win for the Yanks, like 8-2. 


Chamberlin (6-2) vs. Garza (7-7)

Joba has been excellent this season for the Yankees since moving to the starting role. He has posted a 3.74 ERA in the month of July and has only given up two runs in his last two starts. In his only start against the Rays he gave up three runs in six innings.

Matt Garza, much like Shields, has pitched much better than the record indicates. He has been a little inconsistent but overall has a 3.68 ERA. July sure hasn’t been too kind to him as he is a 4.62 ERA for this month. Perhaps he can build off his last start, which was a complete game against the Jays. He’s pitched well against the Yanks in two starts, posting a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings pitched with a .209 average against.

Prediction: Rays win this one in another close pitchers duel. Garza pitches well against the Yankees historically and the Rays have hit Joba well in his career. I’ll go with 4-2 Rays.


The series looks to be a great one as both teams are jockeying for position in the AL East. This is an extremely important series for the Rays because they need to gain ground against the Yankees and the Red Sox, and have to win these head-to-head duels.

Tampa Bay needs to start building momentum now in order to carry it throughout the rest of the year, and New York is going to need all the wins it can get because they can’t seem to beat the Red Sox.

This series should have a different and very important fell to it. It’s like playoff time in Tampa Bay.

This is what post-season baseball should look like.

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