After being swept in the two-game set at Camden Yards against the Orioles, the Yankees will look to make up ground in the race for the second wild-card spot when they start a three-game series against the fourth place Tampa Bay Rays.
After the loss on Wednesday, Shawn Kelley admitted that trying for the second wild-card is more realistic at this point. “I think we’re looking more at the second wild-card spot,” Kelley said. “That’s a little bit better number, it’s a little more achievable at this point.
The Yankees have scored more than three runs only twice in their last nine games. They have also lost their last four games and are 1-25 with runners in scoring position in those four games.
On Wednesday, the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 5-3 in a game that it appeared that they would win. In Michael Pineda‘s first start since April, after being out due to a 10-game pine tar suspension and suffering a strained lat muscle below his pitching shoulder while throwing a simulated game during his suspension, he only allowed one run and two hits in five innings pitched. He had four strikeouts and no walks and was pitching just like he did before his injury.
As a result of Francisco Cervelli’s two-run homer in the third Pineda left in position to win the game. However, in a desperate move by Joe Girardi, Dellin Betances was left in to pitch more than two innings for only the second time this season. Betances had four strikeouts and only allowed one hit in his first two innings, but in the eighth, Betances gave up a game-tying homer to Jonathan Schoop with one out. In 2014, Schoop has an overall average of .217 but has four homers with a .379 average against the Yankees.
Betances was taken out of the game after the homer and Shawn Kelley gave up a single, a walk and then a three-run homer to the dangerous Adam Jones on a fastball. Jones hits the fastball better than any other pitch, so Kelley should have known to throw something else. That homer sealed the game since the Yankees only scored one run in the ninth. Kelley, who has been much worse recently, has allowed seven runs in his past three appearances.
After Thursday’s much needed off day, the Yankees will look to find their offense at Tropicana Field. They will luckily not have to face Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his five career starts against the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees will need to score with runners in scoring position and score many more runs against the Rays than they have the past few games.
The Rays are 60-61 and have gone 6-4 in their previous 10 games. Friday’s game will start at 7:10 p.m., and Alex Cobb will start for the Rays and Brandon McCarthy get the start for the Yankees. In 2014, Cobb is 7-6 with a 3.41 ERA and has allowed two runs or less in each of his last six starts. McCarthy, who will be making his seventh start since being traded to the Yankees, has allowed two runs or less in five of his six starts with the Yankees. He has a 2.21 ERA with 36 strikeouts while pitching for the Yankees, and he has benefited from throwing his cutter more under Larry Rothschild.
On Saturday, Shane Greene, is a rookie who pitched eight shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers in his last start and has a 2.89 ERA, will face the Rays for his first time. Drew Smyly will be making his third start for the Rays since being traded from the Tigers, and he threw 7.2 shutout innings in his last start. His ERA for the season is 3.73. On Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 4.03 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees and Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.03 ERA) will pitch for the Rays.
The Yankees will need to win at least two out of three to stay in the race for the second wild-card. They are currently four games behind the Tigers and will have to pass the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners to catch Detroit.