The Yankees go into their series against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field with a five-game winning. They swept the four-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto, who is in last place in the AL East, did not pose much of a challenge for the surging Yankees. The Bronx Bombers scored four runs or more in three of the games and their improved offense has helped them win 10 of their past 12 games.
Tampa, who is one-game behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and at the top of the Wild-Card standings, has won four of their past six games after losing six in a row earlier this month. The Rays are a team that is led by their strong pitching staff. Matt Moore is on the disabled list right now, but besides him, their top three healthy starters all have an ERA below 3.30.
It is important for the Yankees to win at least two out of the three games because they obviously can’t afford to be losing a series at this point. The Yankees are only 3.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild-Card, which means that each win during this series would help increase their odds of catching the Athletics. Oakland is playing a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend (the Orioles are 3 games behind Oakland), which makes it even more important that the Yankees win the series because teams ahead of them will be playing each other.
Chris Archer, who will be pitching against the Yankees, is a 24-year-old rookie who threw a complete game shutout against the Yankees in his previous start against New York. He will likely be in consideration for Rookie of the Year in the American League as he won AL Rookie of the Month for July. However, the Yankees offense is much better than it was when he faced them on July 27.
Alfonso Soriano, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez are now in the lineup which means that one-third of the lineup has been upgraded. Mark Reynolds, who is playing on a part-time with Lyle Overbay at first base, is another new addition, who is playing tonight because Overbay has the flu.
Tampa’s rotation for this series is influx right now because it is not known if Matt Moore will return during the series. Here are the tentative pitching match-ups:
Hiroki Kuroda (11-8, 2.81 ERA) vs Chris Archer (6-5, 2.95 ERA)
Saturday at 7:10 p.m.
CC Sabathia (11-10, 4.83 ERA), who struggled in his last start but got the win, will pitch for the Yankees. It is not known who will start for the Rays.
Sunday at 1:40 p.m.
Ivan Nova (7-4, 3.17 ERA), who has been the team’s second best pitcher this season, will pitch in the series finale.