AL East rivals will play the first of a three-game series Monday as the Tampa Bay Rays (60-53) take on the New York Yankees (72-42). New York will host this one at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm ET.
In their last series, the Rays were able to take two of three from the Baltimore Orioles. After dropping the first game, they bounced back with two wins, including Sunday’s 4-1 victory in the finale.
Drew Rasmussen was the story of the win as he took a perfect game into the ninth. In all, he went 8.1 innings, allowing just one run on one hit while striking out seven. Randy Arozarena hit his 15th home run of the season in the victory.
The Yankees did not have nearly as much success as they dropped two of three to the Boston Red Sox. Playing in the primetime game Sunday night, they lost 3-0 in the finale.
Jameson Taillon took the loss despite giving up just three runs in seven innings of work. New York managed just two hits and struck out 11 times against the Red Sox. Andrew Benintendi and Miguel Andujar had their lone hits.
As of early Monday morning, the odds for this game have still not been posted as Tampa Bay has not announced their starter for the game.
Rays Trying To Create Separation In Playoff Race
At 60-53, the Rays sit in third in the AL East, 11 games behind the Yankees in the division. While the division might be a tall task, the Rays currently sit in the third Wild Card spot, 1.5 games ahead of the Orioles.
With less than 50 games left in the season, Tampa Bay knows that every game is essential and will look to hopefully create some separation in the Wild Card race with a win.
As previously mentioned, the Rays have not announced their starter for this game, but the belief is that it could be lefty Ryan Yarbrough. In 13 games this season, he is 0-7 with a 5.08 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and has 40 strikeouts in 56.2 innings.
Against the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole, keep an eye on ji-Man Choi. In 21 at bats versus the righty, he is hitting .429 with three home runs and eight runs batted in.
Yandy Diaz has also had a bit of success against Cole. In 32 at bats, he is hitting .344 with a home run and five runs batted in.
New York Trying To Get Back On Track
For most of the season, the Yankees had been the best team in baseball. They have crashed back to reality as of late.
In fact, since the All-Star break, the Yankees are just 8-15, which is the second-worst record in the American League in that span. As they host a division rival Monday, they will look to get back on track at Yankee Stadium, where they are 41-15 to date.
Aaron Boone will give the ball to righty Gerrit Cole in the opener. This season, the 31-year-old righty is 9-4 in 23 games with a 3.38 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, and he has 178 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.
After back-to-back rough starts, Cole took a no-decision in his last start against the Mariners. In that game, he went seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, and struck out eight.
Aaron Judge continues to be the best slugger in baseball. The odds-on favorite to win the AL MVP (-650), Judge is hitting .300/.398/.678 with 46 home runs, 100 runs batted in, 96 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases.
In the last two weeks, Judge is hitting .308/.518/.692 with four home runs, nine runs batted in, and ten runs scored.
Take New York To Win And Cover
While Gerrit Cole has been prone to the occasional rough game lately, this is still a game that the Yankees should win. Despite their rough stretch, they should have a clear advantage on the mound and are playing at home, where they are definitely better this season.
Additionally, the trends do not do much to boost confidence in Tampa Bay. They are 1-5 in their last six games against New York, and they are 1-4 in their last five at Yankee Stadium. They are also 5-11 in their last 16 road games overall.
Especially if Yarbrough is on the mound, this seems like a game that the Yankees should not only win but one that they may be able to put up a lot of runs. Take New York to win and to cover the runline.