By taking the opener of this important four-game set, the New
York Yankees increased their division lead over the Tampa Bay
Another victory would assure the Yankees of still leading the AL
East when this series concludes.
New York tries to win back-to-back games over the Rays –
something it hasn’t done since the first week of the season –
Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York (91-59) moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay (89-60)
with an 8-6 win Monday on a night the Yankees honored the late
George Steinbrenner with a memorial in Monument Park. Curtis
Granderson homered twice and tied his career high with five RBIs
for the Yankees, who dropped two of three at Tropicana Field last
“It’s always a good thing to go ahead and get off to a good
start, but realizing we got to come back and do this all over again
(Tuesday) is definitely going to be another tough game,” Granderson
said. “Things can even out really quick in this series and you
definitely can’t take anything for granted. We got to try to come
out and apply the same pressure and see where we’re at at the end
of this thing.”
Finishing this series ahead of the Rays is important to the
Yankees’ chances of winning a second straight division title.
Following this series, New York has six games left against Boston
and three in Toronto, while Tampa Bay plays Seattle, Baltimore and
Kansas City – the three worst teams in the AL.
The Yankees will first focus on the task at hand – beating the
Rays in consecutive games for the first time since April 10 and 11.
In each of the three series between these division foes since the
All-Star break, the teams have alternated wins and losses.
The second game of this series features a pitching rematch from
Tampa Bay’s 4-3 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday in St.
James Shields (13-12, 4.86 ERA) earned the win, allowing one run
and eight hits while striking out eight in 6 1-3 innings, while
Phil Hughes took the loss, giving up four runs and six hits in 6
2-3 innings. Hughes (16-8, 4.31) did a solid job of shutting down
Tampa Bay’s top hitters, but allowed a pair of two-run homers to
Hughes, who’s having his innings limited to keep him fresh down
the stretch in his first full season as a major league starter, was
making his first start in 10 days. The right-hander has posted a
7.11 ERA in losing two starts this month after going 4-2 with a
4.22 ERA in six games in August.
Hughes has also lost both of his starts against the Rays this
season, recording a 4.97 ERA.
Shields has yielded one run over 13 2-3 innings in his last two
starts against the Yankees and is 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA in five
starts against them this season. The Rays have won eight of his
last 11 starts overall.
Shields will have to be careful facing Robinson Cano, who is
batting .421 with three home runs, four doubles and two triples in
38 career at-bats against the right-hander. Cano, who had his
streak of five straight multihit games end Monday, had two singles
in three at-bats against Shields last week.
Shields has had much better success versus Granderson, who has
four homers and 11 RBIs in his last five games.
Granderson was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Shields last
week and is 2 for 29 lifetime against him.