Yankees vs. Rays: Four things to know, series prediction as AL East rivals meet at Tropicana Field

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By Webdesk

On Friday night, the AL East rival New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series at Tropicana Field. It is their first meeting of the season and the two clubs go into the weekend in very different positions. The Rays started the season with a modern record of 13 wins and are now only the third team in modern times to win 27 of their first 32 games. The Yankees have yet to win more than two games in a row.

Here are the AL East standings as of Friday morning:

  1. Tampa Bay Rays: 26-6
  2. Baltimore oriole: 21-10 (4.5GB)
  3. Boston Red Sox: 19-14 (7.5GB)
  4. Toronto Blue Jays: 18-14 (8GB)
  5. New York Yankees: 17-15 (9.0GB)

Needless to say, this series is much more important to the Yankees in last place. Even though it’s only May, this series might be their last best chance to keep their AL East title hopes alive. They’re in baseball’s toughest league and have already exhausted their margin of error. The Rays could bury the Yankees with a sweep this weekend.

“Don’t count us out,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said earlier this week. “Don’t give up on us. We have a good group of people in terms of players, staff and support staff. It’s a championship-caliber operation.”

Here are the details for the Yankees vs. This week’s Rays series at Tropicana Field. Certain games can be streamed on fuboTV (free trial).

Friday May 5

6:40 p.m. ET

RHP Yonny Chirinos (1-0, 0.64 ERA) v RHP Jhony Brito (2-3, 5.56 ERA)

YES, Bally Sports Sun

Saturday May 5

4:10 p.m. ET

RHP Drew Rasmussen (3-2, 3.66 ERA) vs. RHP Domingo German (2-2, 4.46 ERA)

YES, Bally Sports Sun

Sunday May 6

1:40 p.m. ET

LHP Josh Fleming (0-0, 3.18 ERA) v RHP Gerrit Cole (5-0, 1.35 ERA)

YES, Bally Sports Sun

The Rays will use right-back Yonny Chirinos as a proper starter on Friday rather than an opener for him, while the availability of left-back Josh Fleming on Sunday is a bit uncertain. He staged a comeback in his most recent outing and hopes the discomfort will subside in time for Sunday’s game. If not, Sunday could be an outright bullpen game for Tampa. As for the Yankees, southpaw Nestor Cortes was originally slated to start this series, although he came down with strep throat earlier this week. The Yankees had to push his next start back to Monday.

Now that that’s settled, here are four things you need to know heading into the Yankees vs. This weekend’s Rays series, plus a prediction for the record, because why not?

1. These teams don’t like each other

The staff has changed, but the Yankees and Rays have one history of bad blood dating back to at least 2017. It continued last September when the benches became vacant after Josh Donaldson had to duck from a Shawn Armstrong fastball. Donaldson and Ray’s lefty Jeffrey Springs also had words earlier in the series.

Donaldson (hamstring) and Springs (Tommy John surgery) are on the injured list, so those two will not carry over this weekend. But with these teams, there always seems to be something something. They don’t like each other, and with the Yankees having a frustrating start to the season, things could boil over at some point. It’s happened before with these clubs.

2. Both teams hit a lot of solo home runs

This is a bit unusual. The Rays lead baseball with 67 home runs (the Los Angeles Dodgers are a distant second with 54) and the Yankees are in tenth place with 39 home runs. While it’s unusual for the Rays to outnumber the Yankees, that’s not what I’m talking about here. Both teams are among the top in the league in terms of number of solo homers. This is the ranking:

  1. Kansas City Royals: 76.0% of home runs are solo shots
  2. Milwaukee Brewers: 75.8%
  3. Washington Nationals: 75.0%
  4. Tampa Bay Rays: 73.1%
  5. New York Yankees: 71.8%
    (MLB Average: 58.5%)

Hey. I’m not sure what to think about this. In terms of batting average and on-base percentage, the Yankees and Rays both perform better with men on base than with empty bases, though the slug with runners hasn’t been there for either team. I suspect this is noise in the early season small sample rather than the start of a season-long trend. Still a bit unusual though.

3. Who’s hot, who’s not

The season is now a little over a month old and we are approaching the point where early hot streaks can be considered true outbreaks and slow starts can be the sign of an off season. That said, it’s still a game of ups and downs, and some players are now more comfortable than others.

With that in mind, here are three Yankees who led the charge offensively over the past 14 days:

Hardly an impressive list, but such is the state of affairs. The Yankees hit .228/.297/.381 and .219/.287/.328 in their last 16 games this season. New York scored no more than three points in 16 of their 32 games, or exactly half. This is not a typical Yankees offense. They are usually near the top of the league in points scored, but not this year. Not even close.

Harrison Bader came back earlier this week and Aaron Judge is expected to return from his minor hip problem early next week. After that, not much help comes. Giancarlo Stanton is weeks away from recovering from his hamstring injury and the Yankees have already called up Volpe and Oswald Peraza. their best prospects. What you see is what you get from this team.

Here are three Rays players who have crushed the ball in the past 14 days:

The three guys who have to lead the way lead the way. Tampa is also getting boffo production from Isaac Paredes (.306/.375/.500 for the past two weeks) and Harold Ramírez (.313/.405/.688). Even part-timers like Luke Raley (four home runs in the past two weeks) have contributed. Pretty much everything works for the Rays. Has been since opening day.

4. They’ll see each other again soon

The Yankees and Rays play three games this weekend, then go their separate ways for a few days (the Rays to Baltimore, the Yankees back home to play the Oakland Athletics), then meet again next weekend at Yankee Stadium for a four – game series. These clubs will play each other seven times in their next 10 games. Here is their season series schedule:

  • May 5-7: 3 games at Tropicana Field
  • May 11-14: 4 games at Yankee Stadium
  • July 31 to August 2: 3 games at Yankee Stadium
  • August 25-27: 3 games at Tropicana Field

As a reminder, division rivals only play 13 games on the MLB’s new balanced schedule, not 19, so the Yankees and Rays play more than half of their season series over the next two weekends. That’s bad news for a depleted Yankees team that needs as many head-to-head games as possible to gain ground in the standings.


The Rays are playing so well and the Yankees have been so mediocre – and so drained by injuries – it’s hard for me to pick this series against Tampa. I will say the Rays win two out of three. They take Friday and Saturday’s games convincingly before the Yankees salvage the Finals with a one-point victory behind Cole on Sunday.

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