Aaron Judge is red-hot at the plate again and the new rookie home run king looks to add to his impressive totals when the New York Yankees welcome the Tampa Bay Rays for the opener of a three-game series Tuesday. Judge belted a pair of homers in New York’s 11-3 victory over Kansas City on Monday to give him 50 on the season and break Mark McGwire’s all-time rookie record of 49 set in 1987.
Judge is 12-for-29 with seven blasts - four in the last two contests - and 12 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak to re-enter the American League MVP conversation for the Yankees as they moved within 4 1/2 games of first-place Boston - which plays later Monday - in the AL East. Rookie Jordan Montgomery will take the mound for the Yankees in the opener against rejuvenated fellow left-hander Blake Snell, who shut down the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs last time out. The Rays are one loss or one Minnesota victory from being officially eliminated from playoff contention after splitting a four-game series at Baltimore over the weekend, and are 6-10 against New York this season. Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria needs one homer to reach 20 for the ninth time in his first 10 seasons and become the second third baseman in major-league history to accomplish that feat alongside Eddie Mathews (14 straight).
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), YES (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH Blake Snell (4-6, 4.01 ERA) vs. Yankees LH Jordan Montgomery (8-7, 4.06)
Snell has been a different pitcher since July 1, posting a 4-1 record and 3.15 ERA over 13 outings with six quality starts after blanking the Cubs on two hits over seven innings last Wednesday. The 24-year-old Seattle native walked 37 batters in his first 11 games this season and just 18 in his past 11 outings. Gary Sanchez is 3-for-8 with a pair of homers versus Snell, who is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in seven career games against the Yankees.
Montgomery won for the first time in almost two months last time out when he struck out six and allowed four hits over six scoreless innings against Baltimore. The 24-year-old had not gotten past 5 1/3 innings in his previous seven starts, beginning with a loss to Tampa Bay on July 30 when he permitted four runs over 2 2/3 frames. Peter Bourjos is 2-for-4 with a double versus Montgomery, who is 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA is 13 home contests.
1. Tampa Bay RHP Alex Colome leads the majors with 46 saves and is two shy of the single-season club record set by Fernando Rodney in 2012.
2. New York 1B Greg Bird also went deep Monday and boasts six homers to go along with 21 RBIs in 24 games since coming off the disabled list.
3. Rays SS Adeiny Hechavarria, who has gone 47 games without an error, is 9-for-26 with a homer against the Yankees in 2017.
PREDICTION: Rays 7, Yankees 3