NY Yankees Begin Road Trip At Tampa Bay Rays
By: Willie Bee
Saturday, June 30, 2012
The official halfway point of the 2012 MLB season is still a week away in the form of the All-Star Game in Kansas City. But teams will hit the midway spot on the arduous 162-game schedule before we get to the break as the 13th week of the slate concludes Sunday night and Week 14 begins on Monday.
Sunday's full card concludes with the weekly ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast as the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers close out a 4-game series. First pitch from Chavez Ravine will be a little past 8:00 p.m. (ET), and the game could be a chance for the pesky Mets to finish off a sweep after taking the first two contests from the skidding Dodgers who have been blanked in four of their last five games.
Los Angeles entered Saturday's match having lost its last six and +110 underdogs to stop the slide against New York southpaw Johan Santana, who has beaten the Dodgers all four times he has faced them over the years. Nate Eovaldi was charged with opposing Santana with the Don Best odds screen listing a 7-run total.
Should Santana's dominance of LA continue on Saturday, the Dodgers will turn to reigning NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw to avert the sweep Sunday evening. New York will hand the ball to Dillon Gee for the series finale.
Gee owns a respectable 3.69 ERA over his last six starts, yet the Mets have managed to win just one of those contests. The right-hander out of UT-Arlington has also dropped his last two road assignments after New York opened the season with dubyas in each of his first four away starts.
Kershaw was the victim of poor run support his last two times out, both road defeats for LA despite their ace limiting the A's and Giants to a combined three runs in 14 innings. The Dodgers are 6-3 in his home starts, and he's a perfect 4-0 the last three seasons when facing the Mets (0.31 ERA).
One of those victories came last July in the same spot he could be in Sunday night and against the same mound opponent. The Mets had taken the first three of a 4-game series in early July 2011 with a chance to broom the Dodgers behind Gee. Kershaw turned away New York, however, with eight innings of shutout ball in a 6-0 triumph. Gee worked into the sixth of that tilt and allowed all six LA runs (5 earned).
Yanks Open Crucial Road Trip at Tampa Bay
The New York Yankees have weathered a tough June schedule in pretty good fashion, but the schedule maker isn't easing off one bit as Joe Girardi's gang spends the first seven days of July on the road and up against their rivals in Tampa Bay and Boston.
New York begins the last week before the all-star break at Tropicana Field where the Rays have won the last seven meetings between the two clubs. Monday's contest will get the prime-time treatment from ESPN (7:00 p.m. ET) and features veteran Freddy Garcia for the Yanks against young Tampa lefty Matt Moore.
The Yankees have faced just one team with a losing record since the end of May, and that was a road series at the Detroit Tigers to begin June. Since then, New York has gone up against the Rays, Mets (twice), Braves (twice), Nationals, Indians and White Sox who they hosted in the Bronx this past weekend. Add to that the double-whammy the club suffered this past week when CC Sabathia (groin) and Andy Pettitte (broken leg) each were forced to the disabled list, and the Yanks' 19-7 record in June entering Saturday's contest with Chicago is very impressive.
Those recent injuries have forced Garcia back into the rotation after he lost a spot in the order with a dreadful April when his ERA was over 12. New York still managed to win two of those four outings, however, and Garcia's recent track record against the Rays – 2-0, 1.32 ERA, both starts at The Trop – suggest he's re-entering the rotation against a favorable opponent.
Moore is having a nice June with a 3.16 ERA though the Rays have lost his past two starts. The young southpaw didn't see his turn come up against the Yankees in the previous three series between the clubs this season, but did face them in his first career assignment last September in New York, working five shutout frames and whiffing 11.
The Rays swept three from the Yankees in St. Pete to begin the season to extend their home streak in the series to seven victories. New York bounced back by taking four of the six played in the Bronx since that series. Two of the three played at Tropicana Field went 'over' the total while four of the six in New York stayed 'under.'