YGY Series Preview Show Rewind: Rays-Yankees (9/9-9/11)


On this episode of the Yanks Go Yard Series Preview Show, brought to you by Knoda.com, I started off the show by talking about the New York Yankees (73-68) losing two out of three games this past weekend to the Kansas City Royals. It was a rare weekend for New York to lose a series in which two of their starters (Michael Pineda and Shane Greene) did not give up an earned run, yet still took the loss in their respective games. Even with a great occasion such as Derek Jeter Day this past Sunday, New York could not manage a run and was shutout in both losses during the series.

The Yankees also had another case of the injury bug as Brett Gardner has sat out the last two games due to an abdominal injury. After their final scheduled off day of the season yesterday, the team will finish up their nine-game homestand (3-3 through the first six games) with a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays (69-75). With 21 games left, New York’s only hope for the playoffs lies in finding a way to get into that second Wild Card spot, where the team is currently five games behind the Seattle Mariners.

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Ever since the David Price trade on July 31, Joe Maddon‘s club is 16-20 over that span. With that being said, the Rays are coming into the Bronx with some confidence. For one, the last time the Rays were in New York (June 30-July 2), the team came away with a sweep and they have a 5-1 record at Yankee Stadium this year. The second reason is the Rays just finished up a home series with the Baltimore Orioles where they won two out of three games. It was a series that Tampa Bay could have swept if Nelson Cruz didn’t have all seven runs for the Orioles in a 7-5, 11-inning win.

Despite losing that final game to the O’s, the team found the long ball in that game when they hit four home runs. It was long overdue for a Rays’ team that has struggled all season in the power department, ranking toward the bottom of the league in runs, slugging percentage, and home runs. The team has hit just 21 homers since August 1. Third baseman Evan Longoria is looking to end his season as a high note. He has two home runs and seven RBI’s in his last six games in a year where he is hitting only .254 with 19 total homers. The offense also takes a slight hit with center fielder Desmond Jennings (.277, 4 HRs, 20 RBI, 32 SBs) possibly out for the season due to a left knee injury

As for the pitching, it remains a strength for Tampa’s team even without Price. In terms of starter’s ERA, the team is sixth in all of baseball with a 3.46 ERA and has the most strikeouts in all of baseball (822). Two of the pitchers in this series, Chris Archer (Tuesday’s starter vs. Hiroki Kuroda) and Alex Cobb, have had great success against the Yankees in their career, including Archer who is 4-0 in five starts at Yankee Stadium. As for Cobb (Thursday’s starter vs. Pineda), he has given up two earned runs or less in each of his last 12 starts as he tries to take the reigns as the new ace of the staff.

For this episode, I spoke with Drew Jenkins, the co-editor of Rays Colored Glasses, to talk about who he thinks needs to have a great September for the Rays heading into 2015 as well as the team’s struggles at home this season (33-42). Tampa is nine games under .500 at Tropicana Field, compared to a 36-33 road record. The 33 home wins are the third fewest in the American League. Here are some of the other topics that Drew and I talked about on the show:

  • Drew’s takeaways from the Rays’ recent series with the Baltimore Orioles
  • What has been behind Longoria’s recent hot streak as of late?
  • Any explanation behind Tampa’s home struggles this season despite a winning road record?
  • Pitching Matchups
  • Chris Archer giving up ten hits in each of his last two starts
  • Hiroki Kuroda giving up two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts
  • Jake Odorizzi (Wednesday’s Rays’ starter) with over 9 strikeouts/per nine innings this year
  • Chris Capuano (Wednesday’s Yankees’ starter) trying to bounce back after giving up three homers against the Red Sox
  • Alex Cobb with six or more K’s in each of his last six starts
  • Michael Pineda coming off of his longest start of the season against the Royals last Friday
  • Rays’ Players To Watch: (Drew: Kevin Kiermaier , Me: Wil Myers and Ben Zobrist
  • Yankees’ Players To Watch: Martin Prado and Chase Headley
  • The dominance of Brad Boxberger in the middle of the Rays’ bullpen