NEW YORK YANKEES (97-63)
at TAMPA BAY RAYS (89-71)
First pitch: Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. EDT
Line: Tampa Bay -170, New York +160, Total: 8.5
The surging Rays will try to win on Tuesday night against the Yankees and hope for a Red Sox loss to gain sole possession of first in the AL Wild Card race. The Rays were nine games back on Sept. 2, but thanks to Boston going 6-19 in September, Tampa Bay (15-10 in September) is now tied for first in the AL Wild Card.
Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02 ERA) will be on the hill Tuesday night for the Yankees. Colon has had his share of troubles against the Rays this year, going 0-3 with a 6.60 ERA. Opposing Colon will be possible rookie of the year Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90 ERA). Hellickson has been fantastic of late, going 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his past four starts. Despite New Yorkís success this year, the Yanks have had an odd problem of playing at night where they are only 53-51 (-16.6 Units). The Pinstripes also are rarely underdogs, but are just 15-15 in the non-favored role. Tampa, on the other hand, is 43-22 when tabbed as a favorite of -125 to -175. The Rays also should benefit from a rested bullpen, as they are 23-10 with a bullpen that pitched one inning or less in the previous game. Expect Colonís problems against the Rays to continue, as surging TAMPA BAY will win again Tuesday night and put mountains of pressure on Boston.
This four-star FoxSheets trend also backs the Rays:
Play On - All favorites with a money line of -150 or more (TAMPA BAY) - below-average hitting team (AVG <=.265) against a good starting pitcher (ERA <=4.20) -AL, with a starting pitcher who throws more than 6.5 innings per start. (130-38 since 1997.) (77.4%, +67 units. Rating = 4*).
Colon needs a good outing to prove to manager Joe Girardi and the Yankees that heís worth a bullpen spot for the postseason. Colon has struggled badly of late, going 0-4 with a 5.58 ERA his past nine starts. The aging right-hander was hit very hard on Thursday against these Rays, allowing seven runs (5 ER) and seven hits in only three innings of a 15-8 loss. The Yankees are expected to play most of their starters on Tuesday night despite not having anything to play for. On Monday, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira got the night off to rest, and Girardi might sit another starter or two on Tuesday.
Hellickson pitched well against the Yankees on Wednesday, throwing seven innings and allowing only two runs on two hits. He did walk four batters though, and didnít get much run support as he got a no-decision in a 4-2 loss to New York. Hellickson is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts against the Yanks this season, but he allowed just two runs with seven strikeouts in seven frames in his lone home start against them on July 19. The Rays will keep a close eye on the scoreboard Tuesday, as the Red Sox face Baltimore, with the first pitch also being at 7:10. If the Rays can scratch out a win, they will have lots of momentum with their ace David Price slated to pitch the final game of the regular season on Wednesday.