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MLB: Big battle in the Bronx2010-05-19
There’s little doubt that the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees have established themselves as the top teams in the AL East, the division New York reclaimed last year after the Rays won it in 2008. They also appear to be the two best clubs in baseball. Tampa Bay can bolster its early lead on the Yankees and extend its latest winning streak to five on Wednesday night, but to do so the Rays will need to end a string of six straight losses in the Bronx. They’ll also need to overcome an underdog line of +145 according to Sportsbook.com.
New York (25-14, +5.6 units) has begun defense of its World Series title in strong fashion only to be overshadowed by the Rays, who are the only team in the majors with a better record.
Tampa Bay (28-11, +10.4) dropped two of three to the Yankees at home from April 9-11, but manager Joe Maddon’s team - already with a three-game lead - has a chance to make a statement in New York before beginning interleague play. “It’s going to be fun going up there, as it should be,” said Maddon, whose team has gone 15-4 (+10.5) on the road in 2010 but was outscored 31-12 while losing its last six in the Bronx last season.
“You want to be on the top. You want to play the best teams. You want to play in the best division. I think it’s great,” Maddon added. “Our guys will be ready for it. Our game’s a pretty good game right now. We haven’t hit to our potential yet, but we’ve been doing everything else.”
Brilliant pitching has been the foundation of the majors’ best start since Boston was 28-11 in 2002. David Price and four relievers held Cleveland to six hits in a 6-2 win Tuesday, lowering Tampa Bay’s team ERA to 2.69 - the best in the AL and they are 37-16 after allowing two runs or less.
Wade Davis (3-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.325 WHIP) has played a role, although the rookie will be trying to avoid a third straight loss. He has held Oakland and Seattle to three runs each in his last two starts, but has gotten minimal run support in that stretch. For those interested in sports betting, Tampa Bay is just is 5-19 in road games vs. AL teams scoring 5.2 or more runs per contest over the last two seasons.
Davis has yet to pitch at Yankee Stadium, but New York has already beaten him twice in St. Petersburg, with Davis posting a 5.73 ERA in the two outings. “I just want us to play the same kind of game we’ve been playing to this point,” Maddon said. “I don’t like to say: `We’re playing the Yankees, you’ve got to play a better game.’”
The Rays, however, have had major problems figuring out the Yankees’ scheduled starter. A.J. Burnett has won four straight starts against Tampa Bay and is 6-0 with a 1.76 ERA in his last seven. He held the Rays to two runs in seven innings of a 7-3 win April 11. Burnett (4-1, 3.31, 1.355) did not factor in the decision Friday night against Minnesota, although he worked 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs - two earned - in an 8-4 win.
The banged-up Yankees will try to regroup quickly after squandering a 5-0 lead in Tuesday’s 7-6 home loss to Boston, with Mariano Rivera allowing a go-ahead hit for the second straight outing. New York fell to 13-4 (+6.4) at Yankee Stadium and will now try to avoid its first back-to-back losses at home and is 73-44 vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 4.00 or better since 2008.
Sportsbook.com has New York as -155 money line favorites with total at Ov9. The Yankees are 38-12 in the Bronx playing against a team with a winning record and 41-11 at home when the total is 9 to 9.5. They are 13-4 OVER when their bullpen is struggling with ERA over 7.00 in the last five games.
Tampa Bay has been terrific in the visitor’s role and is 12-2 away from home after a win this season. The biggest concern is putting together enough hits and they are 6-17 in road outings after batting .250 or worse over a 20-game span. Since last year the Rays are 11-2 UNDER as a road underdog of +125 to +150.
This is the ESPN Wednesday night contest which has a 7:05 Eastern start and New York has won 12 of previous 18 against Tampa Bay in the pinstripes.
The StatFox Power Line shows New York should only be priced at -105.