With some key division match-ups set to take place this week between AL East teams, it may be a chance for the Yankees to either move up the ranks and get back on top with a few wins, or get pushed further down if they suffer any losses.
The Yankees just wrapped up their longest road trip of the season, nine games where they finished 6-3 and positioned themselves in third place in the division, just 1.5 games behind first now. They’ll have an opportunity this week to climb even higher in the ranks as they get set for a critical matchup against the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
After a much needed day off yesterday, the Yankees should be refreshed and re-energized as they’re back in the Bronx for this series, which should be approached with a playoff-like attitude.
On their recent hot streak, it seems as though the Yankee lineup has finally got it clicking on offense. Sluggers in the bomber lineup, have been really putting a jolt into the ball as they’ve picked up the pace by posting more runs in support of their starting pitching. In the last seven days, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are batting .350 with three home runs and five RBIs between the two of them. During the same span, Curtis Granderson has also been responsible for a bulk of the offensive production for the Yankees, posting two homers, seven RBIs, and a .261 batting average in the past week.
However, this has been the story of the 2012 season for New York. Every time they seem to get themselves out of a slump and go on a tear, it’s short lived and they fizzle out at the most crucial of times. This upcoming series with the Rays is one of those moments where they can’t afford to fail with the pressure on.
In the season-series between the two teams, the Rays hold the slight edge, winning four of the six games played so far. Each contest has been extremely tight though, and neither team has won by more than three runs. It’s becoming another heated rivalry within this competitive division, and there won’t be any less tension during this set.
These three match ups will consist of elite pitching duels from both squads, starting tonight when Andy Pettitte faces off with James Shields. Tomorrow night, Ivan Nova and Alex Cobb will square off. But game three is what fans on both sides will be looking forward to as it will feature the aces from both clubs in C.C. Sabathia and David Price. Both have been an essential part of their teams victories and all eyes will surely be on this matchup.
While the Yankees will be scrapping with the Rays to take control of the AL East there will also be another key division matchup taking place as the second-place Baltimore Orioles will be taking on the Boston Red Sox.
The season is flying by and the outcome of this three-game set, may just set the tone for how the rest of the season will unfold for the Yankees. Regardless of how either series turns out, there will surely be some shuffling going on over the next three days within the tight AL East race.