The Yankees beat the Rays for just the second time in seven games this year. There were hit batters and bad blood, so Wednesday’s rematch promises to be fiery.
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Wednesday, May 12, 2021 – 07:10 PM EDT at Tropicana Field
The Yankees took the first game of the battle for second place in the American League East. New York topped Tampa Bay 3-1 on Tuesday, moving a game up on the Rays and two back of first place Boston. The Rays, meanwhile, dropped to fourth place in the division, a half game behind Toronto.
There was, of course, bad blood. Tampa and New York have played some chippy games over the last few years, and Rays pitchers hit Yankee Luke Voit, who was making his first appearance in a game this season, after recovering from knee surgery.
As the AL East continues to tighten up, with the top four teams all over .500 and within three games of each other, the Rays and Yankees will play the second game of their mid-week series in Tampa.
The Yankees had a pregame scare on Tuesday that put the entire Tampa series in doubt, briefly. New York had a COVID outbreak on its staff, with two coaches and one support staff person all testing positive. The staffer was not named, but third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits both have to serve a quarantine under the team’s protocol. All three have already been vaccinated. Pitching coach Matt Blake was also reported absent from Tuesday’s game, although no announcement on his quarantine status was made.
Because the team is 85 percent vaccinated, Yankees players and staff do not have to serve a quarantine if they came into contact with any of the positive cases, only if they test positive or display symptoms of COVID. So the games were able to go on. As of Wednesday morning, no Yankee players had tested positive.
The players voted to go ahead with the game.
“Get ready and hope that we avoid any more hiccups or potential positives and things like that,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Major League Baseball and their doctors are advising us. They know what would require a non-play but they also were very confident today that we could play and should play."
“We're all here, we decided we were good to go and ready to play,” Aaron Judge said. Once the players took the field, things improved. The Yankees have now won three straight and eight of 10. They beat the Rays for just the sixth time in the last 24 games against each other. The Yankees got back Voit and Gio Urshela for the game. Center fielder Aaron Hicks was pulled from the lineup because his shin was still sore from a foul ball on Sunday.
The Rays returned from a 5-2 road trip on the West Coast but continued their struggles back at home. Tampa lost for the seventh time in the last 11 home games and is just 7-11 at Tropicana Field this season.
The offense has struggled in Tampa. The Rays were averaging just 2.5 runs in their last 10 home games and were held to one run in Tuesday’s loss. Tampa had just three hits against Yankees pitchers, struck out 11 times and was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. For the season, the Rays are hitting 26 points lower at home and 107 points lower with runners in scoring position.
The Rays pulled the trigger on first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo, designating him for assignment, likely in preparation for a release. Tsutsugo has struggled at the plate and is hitting just .167 with .462 OPS this year. The team will likely call Ji-man Choi up from his injury rehab assignment at Triple-A.
Tampa starts Collin McHugh in game two. He’s 0-1 7.36 and will open the game for Ryan Yarbrough (2-3, 4.58). The Yankees counter with their ace—Gerrit Cole, who is 4-1, 1.61. His only loss was to the Rays in the mid-April sweep.
The Yankees proved they’re over the early season problems and the spell the Rays had cast on them recently. The series opening win should relieve pressure on the visiting Bronx Bombers. Assuming there are no late scratches due to COVID, look for New York to continue its rollfor our MLB picks.
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