Friday, July 16, 2010

The Series Ahead: Yankees Vs. Rays

Yankees - Rays
Yankee Stadium
(3 Games)

Suddenly things are very different in Yankeeland. The Yankee and baseball community have lost two iconic figures in less than a week, yet the more things change the more they stay the same. The Yankees resume play following the all star break sitting a-top the AL East, with the best record in the AL and all of MLB. The second half of the season kicks off with a huge series against the Rays who sit just 2 games back of the Yankees for the top spot in the East. This is just how George wanted it. The Yankees are in a prime position. His son Hal is doing an excellent job running the franchise. To top it off Bob Sheppards voice can still be heard echoing through Yankee Stadium, as the Yankee Captain, the player that epitomizes what the boss was all about steps up to the plate.

The Yankees went into the break feeling very good about themselves. They have won 8 of their last 10 games. They are as healthy as a baseball team can hope to be, and key cogs in the lineup Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are heating up. After tremendous first half performances from some unexpected sources: Nick Swisher, Andy Pettitte, and Brett "the jet" Gardner, the big money players need to step up. I'm looking at you AJ Burnett, Curtis Granderson, and even a somewhat disappointing Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter. If our unexpected performances continue and our big money players, play up to their capabilities this Yankee team is looking at a deep run into October.

Still the Rays are nothing to be overlooked. After years and years of struggling, the draft picks, and prospects have come to fruition for this organization. With the minor league depth to replace free agent stars this club is going to be a yearly foe to the Yankees. Under Joe Madden (a Mike Scioscia disciple) the Rays are an extremely athletic club that plays superb defense, run the bases well, and produce runs by playing small ball. But don't let that fool you, sluggers Evan Longoria, and Carlos Pena can knock the ball out of the park with the best of them. Combine that with a dominant pitching staff and you have a very nice ball club. The weak spot of the Rays has been and still is their bullpen. With a heavy work load in the first half will their bullpen be able to handle more innings in the second half? Only time will tell.

What better way to open the second half with a home series against your toughest competition. The Yankees took 2-3 against the Rays so far this season having won an early three game set in Tampa taking 2 of 3 followed by getting swept at home by the Rays in early June in a 2 game set. It's time for some pay back. Having a winning record against your division rivals is the difference that will separate a winner from a loser at the end of the year.

Game 1: Tonight @ 7:05 p.m. | TV:MY9 | Radio: WCBS
LHP CC Sabathia (12-3, 3.09) vs. RHP James Shields (7-9, 4.87)

Game 2: Saturday @ 4:10 p.m. | TV: FOX | Radio: WCBS
RHP A.J. Burnett3 (7-7, 4.75) vs. RHP Jeff Niemann (7-2, 2.77)

Game 3: Sunday @ 1:05 p.m. | TV: YES & TBS | Radio: WCBS
LHP Andy Pettitte (11-2, 2.70) vs. LHP David Price (12-4, 2.42)

Important Notes
  • Tune into Friday's Broadcast early. Around 6:45 a tribute to George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard will take place. You can find that on YES as part of the pregame show.
  • Saturday is Old-Timers day and YES will have coverage of that event at 1:30. Also if you are headed to the game gates open at 12:30
  • The Yankees will be sporting patches in tribute to The Boss and Bob Sheppard for the remainder of the season. They can be seen here.
Injury Report

- DH/1B Nick Johnson is on the 60-day DL with an inflamed tendon in the wrist. Set back on July 5th set to visit a wrist specialist.
- RHP Alfredo Aceves is on the 15-day DL with lower back discomfort. Was unable to finish his latest bullpen session.
- RHP Sergio Mitre is on the 15-day DL (Rehabbing at AAA SWB)
- 3B Alex Rodriguez is day-to-day with a groin/hip flexor issue

- LHP J.P. Howell is on the 15-day DL he is expected to under shoulder surgery and is expected back by spring training.

If you have a twitter account, I have created a personal twitter account for the blog as an individual writer. Click here to follow SIH on twitter and here to follow me on twitter. I will be posting breaking news, occasionally live blogging, as well as posting photo's from Yankee Stadium when I attend games.

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