Yankees hoping to make a statement against Rays
The New York Yankees find themselves sitting 3.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East standings with a chance to do something about it beginning this evening at Yankee Stadium.
The Yanks would like to return the favor of the three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays during the first series of the season in Tampa. As it stands that series is the difference between the teams’ records.
The Yanks will be sending Ivan Nova against James Shields in today’s game. Tomorrow, rookie David Phelps takes on Jeff Niemann and in the series finale C.C. Sabathia will work opposite David Price. To the right is a look at the statistical leaders for both teams prior to today’s start and today’s pitching match-up is below.
- According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Mariano Rivera saw two physicians yesterday and it looks like there is no way to avoid surgery on his torn ACL.
- The Yankees will be making a decision today in regards to where Andy Pettitte will make his next start.
- The Yankees are third in the AL with 141 runs scored.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, the Yankees are in a position to make some noise and they need to set the tone tonight. The pitching match-ups worked out to give them a good chance to hand a series loss to the Rays. Yankees fans shouldn’t be looking for a sweep, but winning two of three would go a long way toward building confidence for themselves and shows the Rays they’re not going to walk all over the Yanks this season.
Ball players are never going to admit they are lacking in the confidence department, but the Yankees are fortunate to be only three games back in the loss column. The collectively slow start from the rotation combined with Cano and Mark Teixeira struggling in the middle of the lineup has hindered the team’s production. Most of the rotation, Cano and Teixeira have every reason to be doubting themselves so far this season.
Nova, despite his lofty ERA, has had success against the Rays. Shields on the other hand does not pitch well against the Yankees, so there is a slight advantage for them tonight on the mound.
With Phelps going in the middle game it would be beneficial for the team to win tonight reducing any pressure the rookie may be putting on himself. His counterpart, Niemann has good numbers against the Bombers so it will not be an easy task. In the finale, Sabathia gives the Yankees the best chance against the Rays staff ace Price.
At the plate all eyes are on Cano to see if he can build on his performance Sunday afternoon. Shields is the perfect pitcher for him to see next, as seen by the Tale of the Tape chart above. He also has good numbers against Niemann in minimal at-bats, but has troubles with Price (7-for-34), so tonight’s important for Cano too.
If Nova can get back on track after his winning streak was snapped and Cano’s grand slam was a harbinger of things to come, the Yankees have a good shot at winning the series opener putting them in position to grab a series victory from the Rays. It’s early May, but it’s never too early to make a statement.
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