Rays visit Yankees with Duda in tow (Jul 28, 2017)

BY AP • July 28, 2017

NEW YORK -- In recent seasons, the Tampa Bay Rays were not good enough to consider themselves buyers at the frenzy known as the non-waiver trade deadline.

This year is different.

After adding left-handed reliever Dan Jennings in a trade with the Chicago White Sox, the Rays will add Lucas Duda to their 25-man roster Friday night when they continue a four-game series with the Yankees, who are on a four-game winning streak.

Last season, the Rays were 42-61 at the deadline and dealt Brandon Guyer, Steve Pearce and Matt Moore. Two years ago, Tampa Bay was 51-53 through the end of July and traded reliever Kevin Jepsen; and, in 2014, the Rays ended July with a 53-55 record and traded ace David Price to the Detroit Tigers.

"It hasn't been the case because we haven't been good enough," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.

The last time the Rays held a winning record through the end of July was 2013, when they were 64-44 but did not make any notable trades before the deadline.

The Rays acquired Duda from the New York Mets on Thursday, about five hours before Brett Gardner's home run in the 11th inning gave the Yankees a 6-5 victory. Duda will be their designated hitter against right-handed pitching and is the fifth player with at least six seasons of experience acquired by the team.

Duda is a .253 hitter against right-handed pitching this season and batting .246 with 17 homers in 75 games.

"I'm excited to join the Rays. They're in the hunt," Duda told reporters in San Diego. "Kind of mixed emotions. There are guys here I've grown pretty close to, and (the Mets) are a first-class organization. I was very proud to be a New York Met, and I'm gonna be very proud to be on the Tampa Bay Rays."

Duda will be joining a team looking to rebound from a tough loss.

"Well, we didn't win so it's a bummer," Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer said. "Fortunately, we play four games here, so we can still gain some ground. We can come out these next three days and win three and take three out of four from a good club and I guess just turn the page and focus on tomorrow. That's all we can do."

The Rays are 2-6 in their last eight games while the Yankees are 7-2 in their last nine after slumping into the All-Star break.

"It feels good," Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia said. "Obviously that's a good team over there, a team in our division."

Masahiro Tanaka (7-9, 5.37 ERA) starts for the Yankees and tries to end a three-start winless streak as he continues an inconsistent fourth season. Since allowing one run against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 3, he is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA.

Tanaka is second in the American League with 26 home runs allowed, one behind Ricky Nolasco of the Los Angeles Angels. He allowed two more in Friday's 6-5, 10-inning loss at Seattle when he allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings.

"Obviously it's disappointing, but it is what it is," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "You just have to keep on fighting, and that's my intention."

Tanaka is 0-2 with a 20.65 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this season. The Rays are hitting .515 in their two games against Tanaka, and the hitters own an OPS of 1.655.

Tanaka started the season-opening 7-3 loss at Tampa Bay on April 2 and allowed seven runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. In a 9-5 loss at Tampa Bay on May 20, Tanaka allowed six runs and nine hits in three innings.

Last season, Tanaka was 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in five starts vs. the Rays, who batted .194 against him.

Overall, he is 6-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rays.

Austin Pruitt will rejoin the Rays to start his third stint. After his second stint May 31 to June 27, he transitioned to starting with Triple-A Durham and was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts there.

"All the reports on Austin have been really solid since he transitioned back," Cash said. "We tried him in the bullpen. We felt it would allow us to have some extra depth in the rotation before Matt Andreise's injury. It's nice when you have a guy that can stay in there, and I like the way he's throwing the ball."

Pruitt will be making his second career start and first since allowing one hit in three scoreless innings April 25 at Baltimore when the Rays told him he was starting because of uncertain weather.

Pruitt holds a 16.26 ERA in three relief appearances against the Yankees, who scored five times (three earned) in 1 2/3 innings against him during the first two weeks of the season.

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