As we enter the final month of the MLB regular season both the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays enjoyed a rare day off on Thursday in reflective, but differing moods.
The Yankees lost to a three-run shot by Shohei Ohtani on Wednesday night, while the Rays enjoyed a two-game sweep of their state rivals, the Miami Marlins.
New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays, Game One of Three
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
19:10 EDT, Friday September 2nd 2022
|How to watch:|
YES Network, Bally Sports Sun, MLBN
NY Yankees +110, TB Rays -130
The loss to the Angels conceded a 3-4 West Coast swing for the Yankees, who split a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics before dropping two of the three to the Angels, with both clubs out of postseason contention.
The Yankees travel to Florida to wrap up their road trip by facing the Rays, the Bronx Bombers hold a six-game advantage over the second-placed Tampa side, however the Yankees were once 15 and a half games ahead.
Wednesday's defeat also meant that the Yankees had their worst calendar month since September 1991, with a 10-18 record.
Speaking to the official New York Yankees website following the loss to the Angels on Wednesday, team manager Aaron Boone said: "We've got a long flight back east, an off-day and then we start an important series with a division opponent.
"We've got to play better than we've played, it's as simple as that. We've got to start picking up some wins. Whether the calendar has an 8 or a 9 or a 10 on it, we've got to get a little better."
Tampa Bay went an American League-best 18-9 in August as they won both games in Miami and the Rays have now won seven consecutive games against the Marlins dating back to early 2021.
The Rays lead the American League Wild Card spots just over the Seattle Mariners, with the Toronto Blue Jays occupying the third place.
Tampa Bay have won eight of their last 10 games including sweeping the Los Angeles Angels and the Miami Marlins, going down 2-1 in a series with the Boston Red Sox as the only blemish.
The Yankees and the Rays will meet up again next week at Yankee Stadium as Tampa Bay try to chase down the Bronx Bombers.
The Yankees will have Domingo German on the mound for Game one of the series against the Rays.
The 29-year old has a 2-2 record having spent much of the season injured. German has a 3.19 ERA and has struck out eight batters in his last two outings against the Mets and Athletics.
Tampa Bay will have Jeffrey Springs pitching for them. The 29-year-old has a 6-4 record with a 2.76 ERA and the lefty has a win and a loss in the two times he has pitched against the Yankees - both this season.
With these two clubs being part of the American League East Division, they have met more than most. This season, New York edges Tampa Bay by eight games to five with six meetings to play.
The last two seasons prior, Tampa Bay held the edge as they won the AL East Division and appeared in the World Series in 2020.
Tampa Bay have had injuries this season. Since the end of August they have lost Wander Franco, Tyler Glasnow, Roman Quinn, Andrew Kitteridge, Ryan Thompson, Shane McClanahan, Brandon Lowe plus others.
It's remarkable for a side with such a small budget that they have been able to maintain this pressure on trying to get to the postseason and beyond.
Having McClanahan and Lowe on the injured list is a big blow to the Rays, especially the former.
The first-time All-Star is having an even better season than his rookie campaign, with an 11-5 record, 2.20 ERA and 182 strikeouts in just over 147 innings.
The 2018 first-rounder out of University of South Florida is already at his career high for innings pitched at any level and missed his freshman season at USF due to Tommy John surgery in 2016.
McClananhan was scratched from his start against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday following conversations with coaches during the pre-match warm-up pitches.