Having won two of three games against the Royals, the Yankees will end their road trip in St Petersburg, where they will play a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are coming off a series win themselves, taking two of three games from the Cleveland Indians. Prior to that, they also won the series in Boston, again winning two of the three contests. The Rays currently sit in fourth place in the AL East with a 21-22 record.
According to ESPN.com, the Rays own the fourth best team ERA in the league, with 3.75. The Yankees are seventh with 3.80. However, the Yanks have scored 220 runs thus far, good for third in all of baseball. The Rays hold the ninth spot in the rankings, with 200 runs. The Rays took the first series against the Yankees at the beginning of the year, but the Bombers swept them shortly after.
Every series is important of course, but the games seem all the more crucial when playing teams in your division. The Rays are looking to get over that .500 mark, while the Yankees will be looking to widen their lead atop the division. Let’s take a look at the upcoming three games, starting with tonight:
Luis Severino got his first victory of the year against the Rays earlier in the season. He surrendered two runs through seven innings while striking out 11. He also apparently loves pitching at the Trop, where he boasts a 2-0 record with a 0.82 ERA.
On the other end, Erasmo Ramirez is making just his second start of the year. His role this year has been in the bullpen, but will be handed the ball tonight after Blake Snell was optioned to Triple-A. Ramirez has surrendered three runs in four innings of work this year against the Yankees. Two of those runs came from a moonshot off the bat of Aaron Judge.
Logan Morrison will look to continue his success against the Yankees this year. He’s hitting .438 with two home runs against the Yanks in 2017. However, third-baseman Evan Longoria has struck out in 10 of the 19 at-bats he has against New York this year.
Saturday, 5/20: Tanaka vs. Andriese
Everyone remembers Opening Day when the Rays knocked Masahiro Tanaka out of the game in less than three innings. Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison both homered against the Japanese right-hander in a disappointing 7-3 loss. But, the bright side of that game was the 5.1 shutout innings our bullpen pitched. Unfortunately, Tanaka is coming off a similar outing, where the Astros tagged him for 8 runs in less than two innings. He has certainly had his ups and downs this year, but hopefully a good start Saturday will put him back on the right track.
Matt Andriese is currently 3-1 with a respectable 3.13 ERA. He let up one run through six innings that resulted in a no decision for him against the Yankees back in April.
Sunday, 5/21: Sabathia vs. Archer
It has truly been the tale of two pitchers this year with CC Sabathia, having shown glimpses of great success, along with a fair share of failures. The veteran lefty is coming of a win against the Royals where he tossed 6.2 scoreless innings. But CC let up at least five runs in each of the three games prior to that. He helped the Yanks get their first win of the season against the Rays, where he threw five scoreless innings. He will look to improve on his lackluster 4.93 ERA when he takes the mound for the series finale.
Chris Archer, who has been tabbed the ace of the Rays squad, has gone 3-2 with a 3.70 ERA in 2017. On Opening Day against the Yankees, Archer gave up two runs through seven innings, ultimately getting his team the victory. In 37 at-bats, Jacoby Ellsbury owns a .514 career batting average against the Rays’ ace. Ellsbury has also homered twice off of Archer, and has knocked in five runs.