Preview of the series finale between the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays

CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia

The Yankees will play the Tampa Bay Rays (14-17) at 1:05 p.m. to wrap up their three-game series at Yankee Stadium. If they win, the Yankees will win the series two games to one, and will improve their record to 17-13. They are also split their season series, three games to three, so far against the Rays.

Yesterday, the Yankees got yet another solid start from Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees needed his 7.0 innings pitched because 9.1 innings in Friday’s 14 inning loss to the Rays. Tanaka, who has now pitched 7 innings or more in five of his six starts and has been the team’s most reliable starter, now has an of 2.53, a 4-0 record and 51 strikeouts to only six walks.

CC Sabathia will look to follow Tanaka’s lead and make it two solid starts in a row. He has looked better overall in his last few starts, but he has had trouble avoiding that big inning that has hurt him in many of his starts. In Sabathia’s start against Tampa Bay on April 17, he had his best outing of his season, as he only allowed one run in seven innings while striking out seven. The lefty will look to rebound from his last start where he gave four runs in five innings to the Seattle Mariners. All four of the runs that the Mariners scored off of him came in the fifth inning.

Three players on the Rays that Sabathia will have to concentrate on are Desmond Jennings, Evan Longoria and James Loney. Jennings has a .276 average, four homers and 10 RBIs. Sabathia and John Ryan Murphy will have to pay attention to him when on first because he has six steals. Longoria, who has a .400 average against the Yankees this season and has a .411 average against Sabathia in his career, has three homers and 16 RBIs this season. Loney is hitting .407 in his last seven days and is hitting .343 on the season.

Erik Bedard, who is a veteran lefty in his first season with the Rays, will get the start against the Yankees. In three starts and four appearances he has a 5.52 ERA, a high 1.84 WHIP and an underwhelming 10 strikeout two 10 walks strikeout to walk ratio. However, in Bedard’s last start, against the Red Sox in Boston, he only gave up one run in five innings pitched.

A factor that could help the Yankees while Bedard is pitching is that between 2011 and 2013 Bedard had 5.47 ERA in away games while having a better 3.45 ERA in home games. He is obviously much more comfortable pitching in front of his home fans.

Mark Teixeira is beginning to look like the hitter he was back in 2011 when he hit 39 homers and drove in 111 runs. During spring training, Joe Girardi said that he thinks Teixeira could hit 30 homers and drive in 1oo runs this season, and he could do that if he continues hitting the way he has recently. In he past five games, Tex has hit four homers, drove in six runs and has a .368 average. The Yankees lineup is so much deeper when Teixeria is hitting well. They didn’t have the luxury of having a productive Teixeria in the lineup last season because he was only able to play in 15 games due to an injured right wrist.

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