Rays-Yankees Preview

By taking the opener of this important four-game set, the New

York Yankees increased their division lead over the Tampa Bay

Rays.

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

week.

“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.

Petersburg.

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

Dan Johnson.

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.