The New York Yankees (51-47, 24-24 away) and Tampa Bay Rays (60-40, 30-18 home) begin a three-game American League East series beginning Tuesday night. The series opener will mark the 14th time these two franchises have faced each other this season, with the Rays owning an 8-5 record against the Yankees.
Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EST inside Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. According to oddsmakers, the Rays (-145) are the head-to-head favorites with a run total at 8.
What to Know – New York Yankees
New York dropped three of four over the weekend to rival Boston and are now 5-4 to start the second half of the season. The Yankees sit in third place in the AL East, 9.5 games back of the division-leading Red Sox.
The expected starter for the visitors is left-hander Jordan Montgomery (3-5, 3.96 ERA, 1.18 WHIP). Montgomery will try to lock down his first victory on the mound since June 2nd, a dry spell of eight starts. The 28-year old tossed 5.2 innings in his last outing, scattering three hits and striking out six in a no-decision.
New York ranks 20th in team batting average (.236) but ninth in on-base percentage (.324). Outfielder Aaron Judge leads the Yankees with 21 home runs and 47 runs driven in. Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton is right behind Judge with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs.
What to Know – Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay has started off the second half of play hot with a 7-3 record over their first ten games. The Rays have won all three series they’ve played in, including a run of five-straight before a one-run loss on Sunday. Tampa finds themselves in second place in the AL East, only 1.5 games back of first.
24-year old lefty Shane McClanahan (4-3, 3.88 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) toes the rubber for the Rays. The rookie pitcher will make his first career start against the Yankees in the series opener. McClanahan has been solid over his last two trips to the mound, logging 9.0 innings and allowing two earned runs on eight hits with 12 strikeouts.
The Rays aren’t going to dazzle you with their team batting average, but the host knows how to plate runs, ranking sixth in the MLB, averaging just under five runs per game. Second baseman Brandon Lowe got off to a rough start at the plate to start the season but has seen his average rise over the last month. The 27-year old is the team leader in home runs (21) and RBIs (49).
The Pick is In
This is a big series for both teams, and starting with a victory will be necessary. The Yankees have had success this season against left-handed pitchers, while the Rays splits aren’t as good.
McClanahan has shown signs of a budding star on the mound, but his first experience against this Yankees lineup might be one to forget. Montgomery and the Yankees take the opener in a close one.
The Pick: New York Yankees ML