RAYS (43-30) AT YANKEES (45-27)
1:05 p.m. ET; YES, FS-SUN, MLB.TV
The Tampa Bay Rays remain the closest pursuers of the New York Yankees, but they are encountering immense struggles getting victories at Yankee Stadium.
With another home series victory secured against the Rays, the Yankees go for the three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon when the American League East rivals conclude their third series of the season.
The Yankees followed up a 3-0 victory on Monday with a 6-3 victory Tuesday, clinching a series over the Rays for the 14th time in the past 15 series between the teams by scoring three times in the fifth off Chaz Roe and adding two late homers.
Edwin Encarnacion went deep for the first time since joining the Yankees, and Cameron Maybin connected for a career-high fourth straight game. Those homers marked the 21st game the Yankees connected, the longest streak in the majors this season and four shy of the team record set in 1941.
“We were already dangerous, and now it’s another icing to the cake,” Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton said before playing in his first game off the injured list. “We got to build this together, and once we’re all on full force, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m just glad to be back and Aaron (Judge) is not far behind.”
Stanton went 0-for-4 on Tuesday after missing the previous 68 games.
“We have a lot of dynamic players and hitters, and certainly Giancarlo’s one of them, so hopefully the length that we have in that lineup makes it difficult on the opposing team and the opposing pitchers, and obviously with Tampa here, we’re facing one of the elite staffs,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tuesday afternoon.
The Rays head into Wednesday with six losses in their past eight games, their worst stretch of the season.
“They’re good,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said of the Yankees. “Sometimes they win by hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Sometimes they win by finding holes. A bunch of good hitters.”
Tampa Bay was without infielder Yandy Diaz for the second straight game due to a right hamstring injury, and he remains day-to-day.
Blake Snell (4-5, 3.70 ERA) will hope to display better control when he starts Wednesday for the Rays, five days after issuing a season-high four walks. Snell’s lack of command contributed to him allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits in 3 1/3 innings of a no-decision in Tampa Bay’s 9-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Snell already has five losses, matching his total from his 2018 AL Cy Young Award season. He is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in his past seven starts, even though he has allowed two runs or fewer five times in that span.
Snell is 3-5 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 career starts against the Yankees. He is 1-4 with a 4.97 ERA in nine starts in the Bronx. Snell last pitched in Yankee Stadium on May 18, when he allowed one run and struck out nine in six innings during a no-decision.
CC Sabathia (3-4, 4.42 ERA) will make his fourth attempt at getting his 250th win. Sabathia is 0-3 with a 6.89 ERA since recording his last victory May 22 in Baltimore.
Sabathia last pitched Friday in Chicago when he allowed season highs of six runs (five earned) and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 10-2 loss to the White Sox.
The left-hander is 17-16 with a 3.63 ERA in 50 career starts against Tampa Bay. He faced the Rays twice last month, allowing three runs in 11 innings in a pair of no-decisions.
–Field Level Media