While left-handers David Price and CC Sabathia rank among the
better pitchers in the game, this enticing matchup has proved to be
a one-sided affair.
With Price looking to improve to 4-0 against Sabathia, the Tampa
Bay Rays seek a ninth win in 10 meetings with the New York Yankees
as the teams conclude their three-game set Thursday night.
New York (16-14), which snapped a seven-game losing streak to
Tampa Bay with Tuesday’s 5-3 win, saw its struggles in this series
resume with a 4-1 loss Wednesday. The Rays (20-11) were held
scoreless before Matt Joyce’s three-run homer off closer David
Robertson capped a furious four-run rally in the ninth.
“It’s always great to come up with a big hit like that,
especially against the Yankees,” said Joyce, who rolled his left
ankle while snapping Tampa Bay’s 0-for-20 drought with runners in
Filling in for the injured Mariano Rivera, Robertson – who
earned his first save after getting out of a bases-loaded jam
Tuesday – hadn’t allowed a run in his previous 26 regular-season
appearances dating to September.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” Robertson said. “You
watch when Mo does it, he comes back the next day and he’s the same
guy. He goes right back out there, takes the mound and does his
thing. I’m going to have to do that (Thursday).”
Runs could be at a premium with Sabathia (4-0, 4.15 ERA) and
Price (5-1, 2.35) squaring off.
The 26-year-old Price has outdueled Sabathia in five previous
matchups, going 3-0 while compiling a 1.56 ERA, and the Rays have
won all five of those games.
Price improved to 5-2 with a 3.96 ERA lifetime against the
Yankees with 6 1-3 innings of two-run ball during an 8-6 win April
On the verge of winning a career-best fifth consecutive start,
Price was sensational his last time out, allowing one run, three
hits and striking out a season-best 12 over eight innings of
Friday’s 7-2 win over Oakland.
“I feel like this was the best fastball command I’ve had all
year,” he told the team’s official website. “Hopefully, it
continues to get better.”
“Right now, I feel good taking that ball every fifth day. I like
where I’m at personally … it’s starting to roll pretty good right
Price went 19-6 in 2010 before taking what appeared to be a step
back last season, when he posted a 12-13 record.
“I think his confidence is reemerging,” manager Joe Maddon said.
“We’ve always had confidence in him, but you have to have
confidence in yourself. So the confidence is reemerging. … You
combine confidence with that kind of skill level – heads up.”
Sabathia also enters this game riding a four-start winning
streak after surrendering a pair of runs and scattering seven hits
over eight innings in Friday’s 6-2 victory at Kansas City.
“I (was) sitting over there during the course of the game,
trying to figure out a better left-hander in the game today,”
Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I couldn’t come up with one.”
Sabathia, who’s recorded a 2.46 ERA in going 8-1 over his last
11 starts at Yankee Stadium, is just 1-4 with a 3.72 ERA during his
last nine games against the Rays. He was tagged for a season-worst
five runs over six innings of a 7-6 season-opening, walk-off loss
at Tampa Bay on April 6.
Carlos Pena can’t be looking forward to facing Sabathia, against
whom he’s gone 5 for 38 (.132) with 21 strikeouts. The 2007 AL Cy
Young Award winner won’t have to worry about facing injured Evan
Longoria, who is 13 for 33 with five homers against him.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are each 7 for 34 against
Price, with Granderson taking him deep twice.