After taking 2 of 3 from the Texas Rangers, a hot team that had the best record in the American League in May, the Yankees face off against divisional rivals Tampa Bay for a four game series at the stadium. The Yankees (32-22) are tied with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East standings.
The Rays (28-28) have fought back to .500 in the last week after dropping 5 straight games, including a 4-game sweep by the Cleveland Indians. In successive order, the Rays took 2 of 3 from Minnesota and then swept Kansas City – but every time they claw back to .500, the Rays seem to lose steam and falter. Now they travel to the Bronx to face off against the hottest team in the majors.
The two teams are set to face off in a 4-game series. They have already met 5 times this season, with the Rays taking 3 of 5 from the Yankees, including a two-game sweep May 6-7 – but that was the turning point of the Yankee season. After that series, the Yankees took 2 of 3 from Baltimore, and then began a 10 game win streak. They are 19-7 since May 7.
The Yankee offense has been led by Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Melky Cabrera. Tex is second in the AL with 16 HR, and fourth in RBI with 47. Jeter and Teixeira both had double-digit hitting streaks going until this past week and Cabrera has been clutch all season, including a two-run homer Thursday afternoon that gave the Yankees a two-run lead over the Rangers and the win.
The hitting of Teixeira has been the biggest reason why Johnny Damon leads the AL in runs scored (43) – he has also been clutch.
The Tampa offense has been no less stunning. Evan Longoria, the current leader in the AL All-Star voting is in his sophomore year and is quickly demonstrating that he may be the best 3B in baseball. Longoria leads the majors in RBI with 55, is second in the AL with 20 doubles and has 13 HR. Oh, and the 23 year-old is batting .322.
However, the most potent offensive player for Tampa against the Yankees has been Carlos Pena. Pena has been a true Yankee killer this season. In five games against the Yankees, Pena is hitting .333 (7-21) with 4 HR and 10 RBI, including a grand slam.
The Rays are without Jason Bartlett, who leads the AL with a .373 batting average. Bartlett is on the 15-day DL with an injured ankle.
We could possibly see a very high scoring series. Both teams have seen their offensive numbers skyrocket as of late and the two teams lead the majors in runs scored this season, the Rays with 312 and the Yanks with 310. However, the Yankee pitching staff has been very dominant of late, holding the powerful Rangers lineup to only 3 home runs and in the last week, they have only allowed more then 5 runs once.
Friday: LHP CC Sabathia (5-3, 3.46) vs. LHP David Price (1-0, 3.00), 7:05 p.m., YES
Saturday: RHP Joba Chamberlain (3-1, 3.71) vs. RHP Matt Garza (4-4, 3.67), 1:05 p.m., YES
Sunday: A.J. Burnett (4-2, 4.69) vs. RHP Andy Sonnanstine (4-5, 7.07), 1:05 p.m., YES
Monday: LHP Andy Pettitte (5-2, 4.33) vs. RHP Jeff Niemann (5-4, 3.77), 7:05 p.m., YES