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The Tampa Bay Rays Vs. The New York Yankees: One Down, One To Go

As the American League East continues to fly off the tracks, the Tampa Bay Rays took game one of two from the New York Yankees sending them to three games back in the division. The Rays hope to continue the trend tonight.

Yankee veteran A.J. Burnett surrendered three homeruns yesterday to let the Rays rally and score more than five runs at home for the first time this season. Tonight the Rays will send number two starter James Shields to toe the rubber against rookie Ivan Nova (4.70 ERA), fourth in the Yankee rotation. The odds are in Tampa's favor!

New York has struggled lately and lost six in a row. Another loss would be the first time since 2007 the pinstripes have dropped seven straight. 

What To Watch For

  • Ivan Nova to give up hits. Averaging over five hits allowed per game, the hot hitting Rays could capitalize on facing the inexperienced pitcher. 
  • Sam Fuld to keep being super. Last night he belted his second career homerun with the Rays to start their rally in the sixth and seems to perform well against division rivals. 
  • James Shields to eat a lot of innings. Big Game Shields has two complete games and has gone at least seven innings in each of his last six appearances. 
  • The bullpen to step up. Juan Cruz handled the sixth, Joel Peralta the seventh and eighth, and then Farnsworth earned a save in last nights 6-5 hold. If the bullpen gets the call, the Rays may need to rely on lower leverage pitchers to give Peralta and Cruz rest.  Brandon Gomes gave up three hits in two innings, Adam Russell gave up three hits in one inning, Rob Delaney walked three, and Cesar Ramos allowed an untimely grandslam in their last appearances on Sunday. 
  • Matt Joyce to hit the ball really far. I said this yesterday, but Joyce recently earned the everyday role in right field with his AL leading batting average and has hit .462 in the month of May, including four home runs in the last week. 
  • The Rays to lead early. The Yankees bullpen did not unleash Mariano Rivera or David Robinson (12.6 K/9) last night, they both could be well rested to challenge the Rays.

Game time: 6:40 p.m. ET at Tropicana Fields, Tickets.
Television: Sun Sports HD
Radio: WDAE 620 AM

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.