Suddenly the New York Yankees are running away with the American League's Eastern Division. Can the Tampa Bay Rays put the slow-down on the Yanks when the teams meet for three games at The Trop starting Monday?
Tampa has taken the first two games of this series, winning
4-3 Monday and 7-4 Tuesday, and has now beaten New York nine times in a row in
St. Pete. The Rays won as -140 favorites Monday and as +105 underdogs Tuesday.
New York led 3-0 early Tuesday before the Rays rallied for
three runs in the third inning. Three Yankees errors eventually led to three
(more) unearned Tampa runs.
So the 48-32 Yanks' lead in the AL East sits at five games
over the second-place Orioles and 5.5 games over the third-place Rays.
Tampa now leads the season series with New York seven games
For Wednesday's series finale (3:10 pm Eastern) the Yankees
will go with rookie right-hander David Phelps (1-3, 3.16) while Tampa will
shoot for the sweep with lefty David Price (11-4, 2.92).
Phelps, making a start in place of the injured CC Sabathia,
has started twice earlier this season, and didn't get past the fifth inning
either time. He went four innings, allowing two runs on six hits, vs. the
Royals May 3, and 4 2/3 innings, allowing no runs but walking four, vs. the
Rays May 9. New York lost both those games, although neither defeat was
necessarily Phelps' fault.
On the season, including 12 relief appearances, Phelps has
allowed 35 hits in 37 innings, walked 14 and struck out 34.
Phelps has made two appearances vs. Tampa this season,
throwing 5 1/3 innings of three-hit scoreless ball, walking four and whiffing
On the other side of this pitching matchup Price is
11-for-16 on quality starts this season, and the Rays have won 11 of his 16
starts. Most recently Price held Detroit to two runs on five hits through seven
innings last Friday, and over his last three starts he's allowed six ER on 15
hits over 21 innings.
For the season Price has given up 93 hits in 105 innings and
owns a 97/35 K/BB ratio.
However, Price has already started three times vs. the
Yankees this season, and he hasn't exactly been great, allowing eight ER on 19
hits and 11 walks in 18 1/3 innings. But the Rays won two of those three games.
As of Wednesday morning, in perusing some of the various
baseball betting shops, the best price we could find on Tampa for Wednesday
afternoon's game was the -140 at The Greek, while the best price available on
New York was the +136 at 5Dimes.
The Rays can also be played at +154 on the run line at
Finally, most online sportsbooks have pegged Wednesday's
game with an 'over/under' of eight.
Free MLB Pick for
We've taken hits on the Yankees the last two days, and now
we're a bit gun-shy about backing them again in this series. But New York has
had some success against Price, and it's an underdog. So we'll take the Yanks
Wednesday in the hope they can salvage one victory in this series.
Tampa took Game 1 of this series Monday night 4-3, thanks in
large part to a seventh-inning pinch-hit double by new Ray Brooks Conrad and an
error by New York 1B Mark Teixeira.
Going into Monday's game the Rays had lost six of their
previous seven games.
Tampa won Monday night as -140 favorites on the MLB betting
board, and the game played 'under' its total of 8.5.
The Rays and Yankees are now a combined 63-90 on the
'over/unders' this season.
Tampa has now beaten New York eight times in a row in St.
The Yankees, at 48-31, still lead the AL East by six games
over Baltimore, and by 6.5 games over both the 42-38 Rays and Boston.
James Shields (7-5, 4.04) hits the hill for Tampa Tuesday
against Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.03) for New York.
Shields is seven-for-16 in quality starts this season, and
the Rays are 9-7 in games he's started. But after winning his first six starts
of the season Tampa is only 3-7 over his last 10 outings. Most recently Shields
gave up four runs on 14 hits (!) in 7 2/3 innings last Thursday vs Detroit, and
just before that he allowed five runs on seven hits in five innings vs. Philly.
On the season Shields has now given up 115 hits in 105
innings, and walked 32.
Shields has already started three times vs. the Yankees this
season, and it hasn't gone well. In 16 innings vs. NY he's allowed 14 earned
run on 20 hits, and the Rays lost two of those three games.
Nova, meanwhile, has eight quality starts this year in 15
tries, and New York has won 12 of his 15 starts. Earlier in the year Nova was
pitching in good luck, as the Yanks won several games in which he didn't pitch
all that well. But recently Nova has been very good; over his last five starts
he's allowed just five ER on 27 hits in 35 2/3 innings, walked nine and whiffed
For the year, though, Nova has given up 106 hits, including
16 homers, in 98 innings.
Nova has started twice vs. Tampa this season, allowing three
ER on 10 hits in 15 innings, and the Yanks won both those games. And last year
Nova went 2-0 against the Rays, giving up just one ER in 13 innings. So he
seems to have Tampa's number.
A quick scan of the baseball betting pages shows us New York
can be gotten at -111 at Matchbook, while Tampa can be had at +110 at Pinnacle.
The Yanks can also be played on the run line at +158 at
And most online sportsbooks are listing the total on
Tuesday' game at eight.
About 65 percent of the early action on this game has come
in on New York.
Free MLB Pick for
We took a tough loss with the Yankees Monday night, so we'll
try to get out money back, plus some, by taking New York on the run line
New York just split four games with the White Sox, losing
the first two but winning the last two. Sunday the Yanks beat the Sox 4-2 for
their 27th victory in their last 36 games.
The Rays, meanwhile, just dropped three of four to Detroit,
scoring a total of 11 runs in the series, and have lost six of their last
seven, averaging two runs per game over that span.
So New York, at 48-30, now leads the AL East by a
season-high six games over second-place Baltimore, while Tampa, at 41-38, sits
7.5 games back of the Yankees.
Freddy Garcia (2-2, 6.39) gets the start Monday night (7:10
pm Eastern, ESPN) for New York against lefty Matt Moore (4-5, 4.19) for Tampa.
Garcia started four times in April, got bombed and demoted
to the bullpen, and is now making a start in place of the injured CC Sabathia
and Andy Pettitte. But maybe he found something out in the pen, because over
his last 10 appearances, covering 17 1/3 innings, Garcia has allowed just three
runs on 12 hits.
On the season the veteran righty has allowed 37 hits in 31
innings, walked eight and whiffed 23.
Garcia's last start against the Rays came last July, when he
picked up a win by throwing 6 2/3 innings of shut-out ball, allowing eight
hits, walking none and striking out seven.
Moore, meanwhile, is (by our tough standards) just
four-for-15 on quality starts this season, and Tampa is 6-9 when he's started.
Most recently Moore gave up four runs on 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings against Kansas
City last Wednesday, but over his last three starts he's given up six runs on
14 hits in 19 1/3 innings.
For the season the native Floridian has allowed 81 hits in
88 innings and struck out 90, but the 42 walks are a bit much.
Moore's only career appearance against the Yankees came last
September, in his first ML start, and he was impressive, allowing zero runs on
four hits in five innings, walking one and whiffing 11.
The Yankees are 15-9 against left-handed starting pitchers this
In perusing the various baseball betting shops Monday
morning the best price we could find on Tampa for Monday night's game was the
-120 offered at Bovada, while the best number we found on New York was the +118
The Rays could also be played at +165 on the run line at
several online sportsbooks.
And finally, most MLB odds boards are listing the 'over/under' on
Monday's game at 8.5, although some are offering it at nine.
These two teams are a combined 63-88 on the 'over/unders'
In early betting on Monday's game action on the side has
come in on a 60/40 lean toward New York, while play on the total has leaned
65/35 toward the 'over.'
Tampa has taken five of nine games from the Yanks so far
this season, while five of those games have stayed 'under' on the totals.
Free MLB Pick for
Moore might appear to have the edge in the matchup of
starting pitchers, but at the moment the Yankees don't seem to care who's on
the mound, for either themselves or their opponents. They're just banging the
ball around and winning games. Meanwhile, the Rays are having a tough time
putting any offense together. So we've got to go with New York, getting an
underdog price, for our free pick for Monday.