The New York Yankees lead the American League in several offensive categories and haven’t encountered much trouble at the plate this season ... well, aside from their last outing. After scraping for a run in the ninth inning to avoid being shut out for the first time this season, the Yankees look to get back on track Friday when they open a three-game series against the host Tampa Bay Rays.
AL East-leading New York erupted for 36 runs during a four-game stretch before striking out 14 times in a 5-1 setback to Kansas City on Thursday. Gary Sanchez is 7-for-16 with one homer, three RBIs and four runs scored during his four-game hitting streak, but went 1-for-14 with three strikeouts against Tampa Bay in the teams’ season-opening series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. While the Yankees have won four of six versus the Rays this season, Tampa Bay recorded its first winning road trip in a year by going 4-2 on its recent trek - with 10 homers highlighting its three-game series at Cleveland. Corey Dickerson, who is 19-for-47 in his last 11 contests, went deep for the third time in two days in Wednesday’s 7-4 victory over the Indians and also homered in a 4-1 triumph over the Yankees on April 5.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, WPIX (New York), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. Rays RH Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 2.92)
Severino struggled out of the blocks on Sunday, allowing three runs on six hits and walking three in 2 1/3 innings of a no-decision versus Houston. The 23-year-old Dominican fared significantly better in his previous outing with Tampa Bay this season, permitting two runs and striking out 11 in a 3-2 win on April 13. Severino sports a 4-1 mark with a 3.26 ERA in eight career appearances against the Rays, including a 2-0 record with an 0.82 ERA in four outings at Tropicana Field.
Ramirez will make his just his second start among 13 appearances this season on Friday after left-hander Blake Snell was optioned to Triple-A Durham. “I‘m excited to be back and do my best, because you never know what’s going to happen or how many starts they’re going to give me or what idea they’ve got,” Ramirez said. The 27-year-old, who collected the win after working five innings in his lone start versus Detroit on April 20, struck out four and did not surrender a hit in two scoreless innings at Boston on Sunday.
1. Tampa Bay 1B Logan Morrison has two homers and four RBIs during his five-game hitting streak.
2. Yankees CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who is currently riding a five-game hitting streak, recorded seven hits in the first six contests versus the Rays this season.
3. Tampa Bay SS Tim Beckham has collected multi-hit performances in five of his last nine games.
PREDICTION: Yankees 5, Rays 2