The MLB is set up for a good day of baseball to celebrate July 4. Twelve games are up on the board in total on Thursday. One of the matchups will be an AL East division game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays. These two teams will look to start out this series with a big win on Thursday night. This game is expected to start at around 5:10 PM Eastern time.
New York has put up a record of 55-29 to begin this season, which is good enough to earn them the top spot in the AL East. The Yankees have started off this road trip with two, two-game series. New York beat the Red Sox in both of the London Series games, then went 1-1 against the New York Mets. Now the Yankees will look to finish this road trip strong against Tampa Bay.
The Rays have earned the second spot in the AL East with a record of 50-37 this season. Tampa Bay is not far behind the Yankees, so a win in this series could go a long way. This series will mark the end of a home stand for the Rays. So far on this home stand, Tampa Bay has gone 4-2. The Rays will look to bounce back from last nights loss with a win against New York on Wednesday.
These two teams have already met plenty this season, with New York getting the better of them in the previous series. The Rays are still very much in the race for the AL East, which means that they need to start winning against the Yankees. This series at home seems like the prime time for them to step up before the All-Star Break.
The first series between the Yankees and the Rays was in Tampa Bay on May 10-12. The first game was a close one that was won by a two-run single by Gio Urshela in the top of the sixth to give New York a 4-3 win. The second game of the series was a better game for the Rays. Yandy Diaz had four RBI’s to lead Tampa Bay to a 7-2 win. The Yankees dominated the third game 7-1 as Masahiro Tanaka pitched five innings, allowing only five hits and one run to earn the win.
The second series shifted to New York on May 17-19. The first game was a come from behind win for the Yankees. Luke Voit hit a home run, Thairo Estrada scored a run on a wild pitch and Gio Urshela hit the walk off single for a 4-3 win. The second game was close, but Austin Meadows hit a home run in the top of the eleventh to give the Rays a 2-1 win. Thairo Estrada and Brett Gardner each had three RBI’s as the Yankees took the final game 13-5.
The most recent series was in New York on June 17-19. D.J. LeMahieu had a two-run home run in the bottom of the third to give the Yankees the lead as they cruised to a 3-0 win. In the second game, LeMahieu, Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez each had an RBI in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead. New York won 6-3. The final game of the series went in favor of the Yankees again as New York had six runs in the first and the seventh to win 12-1.
The Yankees have gone 7-2 against Tampa Bay so far this season. The Rays have been a strong team this season, but have not been able to overcome New York. There is a lot of time left in the season, but it would be huge if Tampa Bay could gain some ground on the Yankees with a series win this time around at home.
The Yankees have been hit with injuries this season, but have been able to overcome them so far. New York has been led by D.J. LeMahieu, who has 108 hits, 12 home runs, 61 RBI’s and a batting average of .341 this season. Gary Sanchez has led the team with 23 home runs. Gleyber Torres has 84 hits, 19 home runs and 48 RBI’s.
Tommy Pham has had a strong season for the Rays with 86 hits, 13 home runs and 37 RBI’s. Avisail Garcia has 81 hits, 12 home runs and 40 RBI’s. Brandon Lowe has done well with16 home runs and 49 RBI’s. Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, Yandy Diaz, and Kevin Kiermaier all have over 65 hits and 10 home runs this season.
New York has arguably the best hitting team in the MLB this season. The Yankees have a lot of players that can beat you deep and will only get scarier as they get healthier. Tampa Bay has a solid hitting team, with some good depth, but they will need some help on the mound if they want to quiet down New York on Thursday night.
J.A. Happ will start on the mound for New York on Thursday. Happ has not been fantastic this season, putting up an ERA of 5.23 and a WHIP of 1.281. He has earned a record of 7-4 through sixteen starts. Happ struggled against the Houston Astros in his last start, allowing eleven hits and eight runs through four innings in route to his fourth loss.
Yonny Chirinos will get the start for the Rays. Chirinos has a record of 7-4 through eleven starts and seventeen games. He has an ERA of 3.10 and a WHIP of 1.000 so far this season. Chirinos played the Texas Rangers in his last start and allowed five hits and three earned runs through six innings as he took his fourth loss of the season.
These two pitchers are coming off losses in their last games and will look to bounce back on Thursday night. Chirinos has been the better pitcher overall this season and he will look to prove it with a win on Thursday night. Happ has struggled a bit this season but could find his second win of the season against the Rays.
The Yankees have dominated Tampa Bay all season long, but I believe that the Rays will earn a win on Thursday night. Chirinos has been doing well this season and he will look to stump New York’s strong offense. The Rays will come out motivated to start out this home series on the right foot and I believe that it will translate into a win for Tampa Bay.
BetOnline has New York listed as a -113 against the money line for this matchup. This gives a slight edge in the game to the Yankees, which is reasonable considering their strong lineup and success against the Rays. I believe that Tampa Bay has a lot of value as an underdog for this matchup though, which is why they are my pick for the night.