American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, July 27th
(All times Eastern)
Tampa Bay Rays (61-42) at New York Yankees (54-59), 1:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Chris Archer (5-3, 2.76)
New York - Ivan Nova (4-3, 3.19)
(Sports Network) - Now that they hold sole possession of first place in the
American League East for the first time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays will
try to create some separation, as they challenge the New York Yankees in the
second part of a three-game series in the Bronx.
The Rays caught fire early on in the series opener as Evan Longoria's two-run
double highlighted a six-run second inning against CC Sabathia that helped
them coast to a 10-6 victory that spoiled Alfonso Soriano's return to the
Tampa Bay has gone 20-3 since June 29 to claim the divisional lead.
"It's been outstanding to watch our guys perform," Rays manager Joe Maddon
said. "We were playing such a great game, not just a good game tonight, and
unfortunately we let them get back up a little bit, but nevertheless, held
Jeremy Hellickson was excellent on Friday on the way to his 10th win, allowing
only four hits and one run over six innings. James Loney drove in three of his
four RBI in the seventh inning with a three-run shot. Loney, Sean Rodriguez
and Will Myers registered multi-hit games in the crucial victory.
Myers extended his own club record for a rookie with his seventh-straight game
with multiple hits.
Maddon will hand the ball over to Chris Archer on Saturday. The 24-year old
right-hander continued to impress on Sunday as he held Toronto to five hits
and one run over seven innings of work en route to his third consecutive
winning decision. Archer has given up only 15 hits in 28 innings this month
with a 0.96 ERA over that span.
New York will counter with Ivan Nova, who took a loss on Monday after holding
Texas to three runs over seven innings. His streak of two-straight starts with
a win ended and he wasn't satisfied with what appeared to be a decent effort.
"I don't really like it. Even though (it was) only three runs, I didn't throw
enough strikes," said Nova, who threw 62 of 112 pitches for strikes. "I
couldn't command my curveball really good today. My fastball was off. I don't
have a feeling for my changeup. I don't really like it."
The setback stopped a two-game winning streak for the 26-year old righty, who
has also been a batter's nightmare in July with a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings of
Soriano went 0-for-5 with an RBI and run scored in his first game back in a
New York uniform.
"It's a little different because the old one I used to play second base and
the new one I play left field now," Soriano said. "It's hard to get used to,
but I'll be ready to play every day hard. Hopefully I'll have a better game
than this time."
Brett Gardner, Melky Mesa, David Adams and Brent Lillibridge provided two hits
apiece for the Yankees in Friday's loss. Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-3 and is now
only 6-for-33 since the All Star break. Robinson Cano also failed to register
a hit for the third time in the past five games.
Although Alex Rodriguez said in a statement on Thursday that he was ready to
return and wanted to be in the lineup on Friday, the club has said it does not
expect him to be back in the big leagues before Aug. 1.
However, there is a chance that shortstop Derek Jeter could return on Sunday.
The Rays are 6-5 versus the Yankees this season. New York owns a 28-24 record
at home coming into Saturday.
07/27 10:24:57 ET