Yankees-Rays Preview

A.J. Burnett dominated the Tampa Bay Rays last season,

particularly on the road. In contrast, James Shields has never

beaten the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field.

Sunday’s pitching matchup appears to heavily favor the Yankees

in the finale of a three-game road series against the Rays.

Burnett (0-0, 5.40 ERA) enjoyed his most success in his first

season with New York (3-2) against Tampa Bay, going 4-0 with a 1.97

ERA in five starts. He posted a 1.35 ERA in winning all three road

starts, with 17 strikeouts and four walks.

The right-hander has always pitched well at Tropicana Field,

going 5-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 10 career outings with two of his 20

career complete games.

Burnett has fared very well against B.J. Upton, who is 6 for 29

(.207) with 15 strikeouts against him, and Carlos Pena, who is 3

for 29 (.111) with 12 strikeouts. Carl Crawford (.341) and Evan

Longoria (.320) are the only Rays (3-2) with at least five at-bats

to hit better than .240 versus Burnett.

If that’s not enough to tilt this matchup in favor of New York,

facing Shields (0-0, 4.50) might be. The Yankees are 8-1 in games

started by Shields, winning all four at Tropicana Field.

The right-hander has a 6.00 career ERA against New York,

including a 5.61 ERA at home where he has yielded seven total

homers to the Yankees in losing every outing.

Derek Jeter is 12 for 30 (.400) in his career against Shields

while Robinson Cano is 11 for 23 (.478) with two homers, two

triples and three doubles.

Shields allowed three runs over six innings on opening day for

Tampa Bay in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Baltimore. The Rays have won

his last three home starts after losing the previous six.

Burnett, meanwhile, lasted five innings Tuesday and gave up four

runs in a 6-4 victory at Boston.

The Yankees No. 2 starter will have a tough act to follow after

ace CC Sabathia came four outs shy of a no-hitter in a 10-0 victory

Saturday. Kelly Shoppach lined Sabathia’s 111th – and last – pitch

into left field for the Rays’ first hit with two outs in the

eighth.

“You want to see it preserved as long as possible, even if it

takes two pitchers. Our defense was great behind him,” manager Joe

Girardi said. “Alex (Rodriguez) had all kinds of plays. That’s what

you need when you’re going through what CC was going through. You

have to have some great defense.”

Sabathia was pulled due to the high pitch count. He earned his

first win as he walked two and struck out five to stifle a Tampa

Bay offense that had all nine starters produce at least one hit in

Friday’s 9-3 victory for the Rays in the series opener.

Cano homered and drove in three runs Saturday and Mark Teixeira

added three of New York’s season-high 14 hits. Cano is 8 for 21

(.381) with six RBIs this season.

Jorge Posada caught the Yankees’ first four games before sitting

out Saturday. Posada has started strong with a .500 on-base

percentage and five hits in 14 at-bats.