MLB - US Sports: New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Preview
The red-hot New York Yankees travel to Tampa Bay in sensational form to start a three-game series against their American League East Division title rivals at Tropicana Field.
For Game one on Monday evening the Rays will put Shane McLanahan on the mound, while the visitors will put up their ace in Gerrit Cole.
The Rays have won the AL East Division for the past two seasons, reaching the World Series in 2020 before being defeated by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And, while they sit third in the table and 13 games back from the Yankees, they still harbour play-off hopes via the Wild Card. Kevin Cash's men will have to battle hard against their divisional rivals the Toronto Blue Jays for a place in October that’s for sure.
The Yankees have been by far and away the top team in Major League Baseball this season despite blowing a lead in their last game against the Blue Jays - New York went 6-1 during the week and have a commanding lead atop the AL East, with Toronto 11 games back.
What: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays, AL East Game 1 of 3
Where: Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay, Florida
When: 00.10 BST, Tuesday 21st June 2022
How to Watch: MLB.TV and Sports Live Streaming
Odds: Yankees 1.68, Rays 2.25
The Yankees came into this season looking to make sure their star hitters Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge were first of all, healthy, and hitting.
For Judge it's been a troubling season off the field as his arbitration case for salary is set for the end of June.
The Yankees offered $17million, while Judge wanted $21m. The Yankees will have a long-term contract on the table after this is settled and Judge has expressed a desire to stay in the Bronx.
None of these off-thefield matters have troubled the roster, they have averaged 7.2 runs per game over the past week, while allowing an average of just 3.1.
This offense simply cannot be stopped and New York is one of two teams that have hit at least 100 home runs in 2022.
Tampa has Shane McLanahan on the mound at Tropicana Field and despite his last start, which was against the Yankees in the Bronx, he has been excellent.
The Rays lost 4-3 at Yankee Stadium, but McLanahan gave up only one earned run which improved his overall seasonal ERA to 1.84 in 13 games pitched, striking out 105.
The Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has a 6-1 record with a 3.33 ERA. Cole pitched against the Rays last week and threw a decent enough game, with seven strikeouts in six innings and walking just one.
While the Yankees have had a good start to the season, Cole has been a little hit and miss.
Speaking to the official Yankees website at the start of June, team manager Aaron Boone said about Cole: "I think any time you are in a close-knit group like those guys are, and you are challenging each other and learning from one another, I think that environment is one where you have a better chance to drive in.
"But he is Gerrit Cole. He is always going to have those expectations and what not."
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The Rays lost to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to cap a frustrating road trip for Cash's team.
Starter Corey Kluber was excellent against the Orioles, but Sunday was their fifth straight one-run game and their sixth in a row decided by two runs or fewer.
They lost, as they did seven times during this nine-game swing against the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and Baltimore.
Speaking to the official Rays website, Cash said: "It's been a frustrating road trip, we've got to get home and find some sort of rhythm. Klubes was good again for us and it's just irritating, frustrating all at the same time not being able to help him out a little bit.
"We swung the bats ok, but you've got to piece together some bigger innings than what we're doing here of late."
The Rays face a Yankees side who have swept them recently and they may shake their line-up up a little, potentially adding outfield prospect Josh Lowe to the mix.
One positive is that they may have shortstop Wander Franco back for next weekend from the injured list and the Rays need their bats to waken up and produce now as they chase a Wild Card position.
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