The New York Yankees are slowly watching their once-mammoth lead in the American League East become evaporate. The Yankees have dropped eight of their last 12 – including two of three to Baltimore this past weekend – to see their advantage dwindle to two games over the second-place Orioles. The Yankees may get a boost should slugger Alex Rodriguez return to the lineup Monday as the club opens a three-game set at the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez has been sidelined since July 24 with a broken left hand.
The Rays are laying in the weeds just 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the division lead and 1 1/2 behind the Orioles for the second wild card. While offense was the issue for New York in its weekend series, Tampa Bay amassed a season-high 18 hits in Sunday’s 9-4 victory over Toronto. The Rays are returning home after a 3-4 road trip.
Yankees Rays Betting
When: 1:10 PM ET, Monday, September 3, 2012
Where: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, YES (New York), SUN (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees LH CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.40 ERA) vs. Rays RH James Shields (12-8, 3.91)
Sabathia suffered his first loss since June 7 after yielding five runs on nine hits in an 8-5 setback to Toronto on Wednesday. The lefty has allowed five runs in two of his three meetings with the Rays this season. Sabathia recorded a win, loss and no-decision to update his career mark to 10-8 versus Tampa Bay.
Shields saw his four-game winning streak end despite pitching a brilliant outing in his last trip to the mound. The 30-year-old allowed just one solo homer among three hits and struck out eight in seven innings, but suffered a 1-0 loss to Texas on Tuesday. Shields has allowed 20 runs in 23 innings to lose two of three decisions to the Yankees this season.
1. Yankees 2B Robinson Cano is mired in a 3-for-21 slump, but he is 7-for-11 this season versus Shields.
2. Rays 3B Evan Longoria has enjoyed considerable success versus Sabathia, going 13-for-33 with five homers and eight RBIs. He’s also worked 10 walks off the left-hander.
3. With Mark Teixeira sidelined with a strained left calf, the quartet of Curtis Granderson, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez and Steve Pearce has combined to go 3-for-18 in the cleanup position. Granderson, however, is now day-to-day with a hamstring injury.