Following their four-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, 16-6, hold a two and a half-game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East; the Yankees begin a three-game series with the Rays at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
A week and a half ago, the Yankees dropped three out of four on the road to the Rays. The two teams each scored 14 runs in the series.
Despite their struggles against the Rays earlier in the season, Yankees manager Aaron Boone is optimistic that they can play well against them this week if their offense capitalizes on opportunitiesÂ (quotes per George King IIIÂ of the New York Post).
â€œI thought we did a lot of things in that series pretty well. Even though we didnâ€™t score a ton of runs outside of the one game we played I thought we gave ourselves a lot of opportunities and that is what you have to do against them,â€™â€™ Aaron Boone said Monday of his team that went 4-for-27 (.148) with runners in scoring position during the series. â€œGive yourself as many opportunities as you can because you know it is going to be challenging to score and score big against them but if we give ourselves opportunities and capitalize when we have those chances and to continue to pitch well against them then we will like our chances.â€™â€™
The Rays have won eight of their last nine games and accumulated 90-plus wins in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Last season they won the AL Wild Card Game and took the eventual AL pennant-winning Houston Astros to five games in the AL Division Series round.
The Yankees are expected to send right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to the hill while the Rays are expected to send left-hander Blake Snell to the hill on Tuesday night. The Yankees are currently without Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu due to injuries.