OK men, this will be a four round fight for the American League East title. Watch the inside pitches, balks, and check swings. There will be no acting in this bout and I hope to get these games over before 11pm each night. It is bad enough tonight’s start is delayed 30 minutes because the Yankee front office conveniently scheduled the unveiling of the Steinbrenner memorial for tonight. After each round, you will go to your dugouts until I call you back out onto the field. Good luck men, and may the best team win!
My personal feelings on this series is that if the Rays pull at least a split of this series, they will win the American League East. Their final 10 games are against the pesky Orioles and the all but dead Royals and Mariners while the Yankees have to play their arch rival Red Sox six more times and the Blue Jays another three times. The Rays are 3-2 in Yankee Stadium this season so they have proven they can win but the atmosphere up there these next four nights will be much larger than it was the first two times the club was in Yankee Stadium because this one is for the division and it will be a playoff atmosphere.
Let’s hope the Matt Garza of August shows up tonight to start the series and not the one that was beaten around in consecutive games by the Red Sox and the Yankees. Shields gets the second game of the series and is 2-0 against the Yankees in five starts with a 2.51 ERA. The improving Wade Davis gets the third start to set up Price v Sabathia to close out the series. Given how that matchup went last time, it would be wonderful if the Rays could take two of the first three games in this series.
- If the Rays sweep: They own the series tie breaker and have an extra game giving them a five game lead. The Yankees would have to win their final nine games while the Rays would need to go just 5-5 in their final ten.
- If the Rays take three of four: They still own the series tie breaker and would have a four game lead.
- If the Rays split: They still own the series lead and would be essentially tied with the extra game to play.
- If the Rays lose 3 of 4: They leave the series 2.5 games back and would need to go 8-2 while the Yankees went 5-4.
- If the Rays are swept: They leave the series 4.5 games back and would have to go at least 9-1 in their final 10 if the Yankees win four of their remaining nine games.
Keep in mind, this does not wrap up home field advantage in the playoffs for either team as the Twins are only 0.5 games behind the Rays and 1.0 games behind the Yankees for the best record in the American League and they, like the Rays, have a rather cozy schedule the rest of the way. What that does mean though is whichever team loses out in this divisional race better get their hand-warmers ready for a trip to Minnesota to start the playoffs.
Are the Rays ready? We’ll soon find out, but at least they dress to impress. I just have a selfish request that they at least win tonight as it is my birthday as well as the birthday of big Rays fan Jonah Keri.