Three competitive road games against the major-league-leading Tampa Bay Rays left the New York Yankees encouraged last weekend.
Coming off their first sweep of the season, the Yankees are feeling even more upbeat just in time for a visit from the Rays for the opener of a four-game series on Thursday night.
The Yankees lost two of three to Tampa Bay last weekend. New York’s 3-2 win on Saturday was sandwiched by a pair of one-run losses, including an 8-7, 10-inning setback on Sunday, when the Yankees blew a six-run lead with Gerrit Cole on the mound.
None of those games featured Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who returned from a strained right hip on Tuesday. Judge had three of New York’s 10 hits on Wednesday in an 11-3 rout of the lowly Oakland Athletics. The Yankees also had Harrison Bader hit a three-run homer, rookie Anthony Volpe belt his first career grand slam and DJ LeMahieu sock a two-run homer.
Looking back to the matchup with the Rays last week, Judge said, “We could have easily been swept that series. We easily could have swept them. It was just kind of a back-and-forth series.
“It was a fun series. It’s a series you want to play in, so we’re definitely looking forward to the four games we got at home with those guys. Man, it’s gonna be fun.”
The three homers on Wednesday give the Yankees 17 in nine games this month after they hit eight in a 13-game span between April 18-30, when they lost eight times and scored three runs or fewer on 10 occasions. New York also has scored 35 runs in the past four games following a stretch of nine games in which it never topped four runs in a single contest.
The Rays head to New York coming off their third series loss of the season, as they dropped two of three to the Baltimore Orioles to open the week. Tampa Bay dropped two of three in Toronto from April 14-16 and lost two of three at home to the Houston Astros from April 24-26.
Since their 13-0 start, the Rays are 16-9 and have been held to three runs or fewer in eight of those games, including a 2-1 setback on Wednesday.
Wander Franco hit an RBI single in the eighth inning of the series finale for Tampa Bay, which had six hits. In losses the past two days, the Rays went a combined 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
“Very pleased with what we’re doing offensively,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “We’re going to have some quiet nights. They’ve just come here back to back, but I would expect we’d bounce right back.”
New York’s Domingo German (2-2, 4.35 ERA) will face the Rays for the second straight start when he gets the ball on Thursday. German did not get a decision on Saturday when he allowed two runs on four hits in five innings. He is 3-2 with a 5.44 ERA in 12 career appearances (10 starts) against Tampa Bay.
German has not allowed a homer in his past two starts spanning 13 1/3 innings after giving up five of his seven home runs yielded on the year in consecutive starts against the Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins on April 21-26.
Drew Rasmussen (3-2, 3.11 ERA) will oppose German again on Thursday. He turned in his fourth scoreless start this season when he allowed just two hits in 5 2/3 innings on Saturday. That occurred after he allowed eight runs on 18 hits in 9 2/3 innings during consecutive outings against the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox.
Rasmussen is 1-0 and has yet to allow an earned run in three career outings (two starts) spanning 14 innings against the Yankees.
–Field Level Media