While the New York Yankees are not pleased they are going through their worst stretch of the season, they can taking some solace from the fact that they still hold a comfortable lead in the American League East.
Meanwhile, the second-place Tampa Bay Rays are excited about their recent performances and a chance to inch closer to first-place New York.
The Yankees hope to dodge a three-game sweep while the visiting Rays look to gain more ground in the division on Wednesday night in the finale of a three-game series.
New York’s lead reached 15 1/2 games following a 12-5 win at Boston on July 8. Since that point, the Yankees are 11-22. The division gap is down to nine games for the first time since June 15 after the Yankees followed up a 4-0 loss to the Rays on Monday by managing just four hits on Tuesday in a 3-1 defeat.
“It’s better to have this happen now in August than the first week of playoffs or near the end of the year when you’re getting into the playoffs,” New York slugger Aaron Judge said.
The Yankees are in a 2-11 skid and are 8-17 since holding a 64-28 record at the All-Star break.
New York also has scored three runs or fewer in seven consecutive games while playing short-handed.
“I think we’re going to turn it around soon,” New York pitcher Nestor Cortes said. “I don’t know when, but this team is capable of doing big things and obviously we showed it the first half.”
Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles) took batting practice on Monday, and he could start a rehab assignment soon. However, DJ LeMahieu may miss a fourth straight game with inflammation in his right big toe and could be headed for the injured list.
The Rays, meanwhile, are finding their form.
Since a 10-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 19-4 during a four-game winning streak. The Rays are also 8-4 over their past 12 games.
Rays slugger Randy Arozarena hit a three-run homer four batters into the Tuesday game. He has four homers in his past six contests after going homerless in his previous 16 contests.
Because of Arozarena’s latest homer, the Rays are within single digits of the division lead for the first time since June 13. They were 13 games out at the break and faced a 15 1/2-game deficit after being swept in Cincinnati July 8-10.
“Of course, everyone would love to win the division,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “You play less games in the postseason (with a first-round bye). But we’ve just got to keep staying positive, keep moving forward and hopefully just keep on winning.”
Corey Kluber (7-7, 4.40 ERA), who is coming off a sub-par outing, will start the series finale for the Rays. On Friday, Kluber allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to Baltimore.
Kluber is 5-3 with a 2.21 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees. The veteran right-hander is 0-1 with an 0.75 ERA in two starts against New York this season.
New York’s Domingo German (1-2, 4.18 ERA) will make his sixth start since returning from the injured list last month. German has allowed two runs or fewer in four straight starts, and he permitted one run on five hits in a season-high six innings on Friday in a no-decision against the Boston Red Sox.
German is 3-1 with a 6.40 ERA in eight career appearances (six starts) against the Rays.
–Field Level Media