Jun 25, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) looks back and smiles at second baseman Ben Zobrist (not pictured) after he made a play to end the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Tropicana Field. (Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

YGY Series Preview Show Rewind: Rays-Yankees (6/30-7/2)


On this episode of the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show (recorded Sunday night during the Red Sox-Yankees game on ESPN), I started the show by giving my thoughts on what ended up being the Boston Red Sox winning two out of three against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Despite the Yankees hitting six home runs in the three games and getting great starting pitching from Vidal Nuno and Masahiro Tanaka, New York was unable to get any offense generated against Jon Lester and company in a 2-1 Saturday loss, and Chase Whitley struggled again on Sunday night, by giving up five runs on eight hits, over four innings.

The talk of this series was the Mike Napoli game-winning home run on Saturday night in the ninth inning against Tanaka. In particular, it was Napoli saying “What an idiot” to his teammates in the dugout after the homer that was the main story. That being said, the New York Yankees (41-38) failed to take advantage of the Blue Jays and Orioles both losing their weekend series. They will head into their final home series before the All-Star break two games back of the Blue Jays in the division. Their next opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays, has been one of the big disappointments in baseball this season. However, the story line in Tampa has shifted into whether or not their star pitcher, David Price, will still be wearing a Rays’ uniform after the trade deadline.

One of the reasons the Tampa Bay Rays stand ten games back in the AL East with a record of 35-49 is their lack of an offensive punch. Despite scoring 23 runs over the course of winning three out of four against the Orioles over the weekend, the Rays are still ranked toward the bottom of the league in runs (25th in MLB), slugging percentage (22nd), and home runs (23rd). Since the last time Tampa faced the Yankees, right fielder Wil Myers had a slight fracture in his wrist and has been out of the lineup since May 30. Third baseman Evan Longoria is still the focal point of the offense as he leads the team in home runs with ten and runs scored (45). Longoria is heading into the month of July on a good note considering he hit five of his ten homers this month. Tampa will also look for something out of left fielder Matt Joyce, who had five hits and two home runs in Sunday’s 12-7 Rays’ win over the Orioles.

Of course, when you talk about Joe Maddon‘s team, pitching is always at the forefront and it starts with Tuesday’s starting pitcher, David Price. Even amidst trade rumors, Price is one of the league leaders in strikeouts (144), he had a 2.27 ERA in the month of June, and has struck out ten or more batters in each of his last five games. Besides Price, you have to keep an eye on Monday night’s starter, Chris Archer. Archer is 1-3 this month with a minuscule ERA of 1.80. While Alex Cobb has struggled this season (3-6, 4.20 ERA), the 25-year-old Archer is starting to show flashes of being a pitcher that could be a consistent threat at the top of the rotation.

For this episode, I spoke with Drew Jenkins, the co-editor of Rays Colored Glasses. Drew and I discussed the possibility of the Rays trading David Price before the deadline as well as other names that could be traded, such as second baseman Ben Zobrist. Here are some of the other topics we discussed on the show:

  • Any importance to Tampa Bay’s recent offensive surge as of late?
  • Possible destinations for David Price via trade: Are the Yankees one of them?
  • Is it easier to trade Ben Zobrist after the offeseason acquisition of Logan Forsythe at second base?
  • Chris Archer with a chance for history at Yankee Stadium on Monday
  • David Phelps looking to bounce back at home on Monday, where he has solid numbers this season
  • Price’s ability to rack up the strikeouts
  • Hiroki Kuroda (Tuesday’s starter) going over 100 pitches in each of his last two starts
  • Is Kuroda becoming a consistent #2 starter in the Yankees’ rotation?
  • Wednesday’s pitching matchup: Jake Odorizzi vs. Vidal Nuno?
  • Yankees looking to be patient vs. Odorizzi and drive up the pitch count
  • Nuno looking to build on confidence from Friday
  • Rays’ Players To Watch: (Drew: Ben Zobrist,  Ricky: Matt Joyce and James Loney)
  • Yankees’ Players To Watch: Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson
  • Grant Balfour out of the closer spot, but Jake McGee has stepped up (1.27 ERA this year)
  • Drew’s Thoughts on the AL East

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