For as well as the New York Yankees have been playing — they went 20-7 in June to seize control of the American League East — the team still hasn’t been able to figure out how to win at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay won Monday’s series opener after taking advantage of an error by New York first baseman Mark Teixeira in the seventh inning. The Tampa Bay Rays extended their home winning streak against the Yankees to eight games dating back to last July. The Rays lead the season series, 6-4, winning all four games in Florida.
New York has been its usual hard-hitting self offensively, leading the major leagues in home runs with 124. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano have hit 23 and 20 homers, respectively, leading six Yankees in double figures. The Rays, meanwhile, have leaned heavily on their pitching, particularly a bullpen that has been among baseball’s best all year long. All-Star closer Fernando Rodney has converted 23 of 24 save chances, combining with setup man Joel Peralta to finish off Monday’s victory for starter Matt Moore.
Yankees Rays Betting
When: 7:10 PM ET, Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, YES (New York), Sun Sports (Tampa)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.03 ERA) vs. Rays RH James Shields (7-5, 4.04 ERA)
Nova slogged his way through a rough start to the season, but he has rounded into form recently by going 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in five June starts. He has gone at least seven innings in four of those outings, allowing one run or fewer all four times. Nova is 4-0 in six career starts against the Rays, including a win on May 8 when he allowed two earned runs and struck out eight in seven innings
The up-and-down Shields was dominant in two mid-June starts against Miami, but he has struggled in his last two outings – giving up nine runs and 21 hits in 12 2/3 innings against Philadelphia and Detroit. He lost to Nova on May 8 and was defeated again in New York on June 5, falling to 5-13 with a 4.55 ERA in 23 lifetime starts against the Yankees.
1. New York has struggled mightily in Tampa, but it has still won nine of its last 11 road games overall.
2. Teixeira is just 6-for-48 with 15 strikeouts against Shields, but Cano has hit the Rays right-hander extremely hard. Cano is 27-for-65 with four homers, two triples and seven doubles.
3. Tampa Bay hitters are a combined 20-for-118 (.169) against Nova, with Matt Joyce (1-for-15, five strikeouts) and 1B Carlos Peña (1-for-9, four strikeouts) having a particularly tough time.