The Rays held a share of the division lead through June 19, but the Yankees sped past them at the end of the month and have used an 18-6 run in July to maintain a two-game lead.
The Red Sox haven’t been able to keep pace and have drifted to 7.5 games behind, making the AL East a two-team race until further notice.
Head to Head:
The Yankees started the second half with a series win over the Rays to tie the season series at 4. After this weekend, these two teams meet twice more at each other’s homes in the middle of September.
|Date:||Yankees starters||Rays starters|
|Fri., 7:10 p.m.||Phil Hughes (12-3, 4.04)||Wade Davis (8-9, 4.32)|
|Sat., 7:10 p.m.||J. Vazquez (9-7, 4.54)||Matt Garza (11-5, 4.06)|
|Sun., 1:40 p.m.||CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.15)||James Shields (9-9, 4.79)|
Players to Watch:
Yankees: Alex Rodriguez. He’s still sitting on 599 homers. There’s a reason all three games this weekend at the Trop are sold out.
Rays: Carlos Pena. A .216 hitter for the year who is hitting .304/.429/.696 with three homers and eight RBIs over his last seven games scares me. That man is Carlos Pena.
The Rays are winners of their last six, but the only way they can take their spot atop the East back is with a sweep. With the Yankees’ three top starters going this weekend, I don’t foresee that happening. But I will give the Rays the benefit of the doubt because Mr. Garza is coming off his no-hitter. Rays take two out of three, most likely tonight and tomorrow.