The New York Yankees appear to have righted themselves after a
rough stretch. The Tampa Bay Rays are still stuck in theirs.
This key four-game series continues Wednesday night in the Bronx
as the Yankees try to extend their AL East lead against the
Curtis Granderson had two home runs to lead the Yankees to an
8-6 win in Monday’s series opener, and Nick Swisher’s homer sparked
a five-run first inning in New York’s 8-3 victory Tuesday
Those wins have given the Yankees (92-59) a 2 1/2-game lead in
the East as they chase a second straight division title. New York
has six games left with rival Boston and three with Toronto after
this series. Tampa Bay has a much easier remaining schedule with
series left against Seattle, Baltimore and Kansas City – the three
worst teams in the AL.
”I think we all pretty much know what’s at stake,” Swisher
said. “Take the Rays and us and line us up, and let’s see what
”Getting kind of chilly out there, smells like playoff
baseball,” he added.
The Yankees have won four of five after a 2-8 stretch dropped
them one-half game behind the Rays in the East. Tampa Bay (89-61),
meanwhile, has lost three in a row and 10 of 16, but still owns a 6
1/2-game lead over Boston in the wild-card race.
A loss Wednesday would assure the Rays of losing the season
series at New York for the 11th time in 13 years. They are 1-10-1
all-time in road season series against the Yankees.
Tampa Bay’s starting pitcher struggled again Tuesday, as James
Shields allowed five runs over 5 1-3 innings. Rays starters are 4-6
with a 5.47 ERA this month.
“First inning, I made two or three bad pitches,” Shields said.
”You let five runs in the first inning, that’s definitely not
doing my job. With this team, you definitely can’t do that.”
Wade Davis (12-9, 4.19 ERA) will try to reverse that trend when
he takes the mound for Tampa Bay. Davis is 7-0 with a 3.62 ERA in
his last 11 outings, recording quality starts seven times during
that span. He did not receive a decision in a 4-3 loss to the
Angels on Friday, allowing three runs and seven hits in six
The right-hander beat the Yankees for the second straight time
July 30, limiting them to two runs and four hits over seven innings
in a 3-2 victory. He is 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA lifetime against New
Alex Rodriguez is 4 for 11 with two homers off Davis.
A.J. Burnett (10-13, 5.08) has been the weakest link in New
York’s rotation lately, but is coming off his best start in over a
month. He limited Baltimore to three runs and six hits over seven
innings Friday before leaving without a decision in a 4-3
That was a huge improvement after Burnett went 1-3 with a 7.57
ERA in his previous five starts.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time tonight, as
far as overall everything. … Every time out, they’re not giant
steps but they’re steps forward,” Burnett said.
Burnett stretched his personal win streak against the Rays to
six with a strong showing April 11, but he is 0-2 with a 10.38 ERA
in the past two meetings. He is 12-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 24 starts
versus Tampa Bay.
Evan Longoria is 12 for 31 (.387) with a homer against