September 13, 2017 / 2:26 AM / 8 days ago

Preview: Yankees at Rays

The New York Yankees continue to march toward a playoff spot and can give themselves even more cushion when they go for their eighth victory in 10 games Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field in New York. Todd Frazier belted a three-run homer in Monday’s 5-1 victory in the series opener as the Yankees crept within three games of first-place Boston in the American League East.

Chase Headley, who was rested Monday, is likely to bring a nine-game hitting streak into the second of three contests against the Rays at the home of the New York Mets, where the series was moved because of Hurricane Irma. Sonny Gray hopes to continue his strong pitching when he takes the mound for New York, which is five games clear atop the AL wild card race, while Tampa Bay counters with left-hander Blake Snell. It hasn’t mattered where the Rays have played of late as they have lost six of nine to fall four games behind Minnesota for the AL’s second wild card. Former Met Lucas Duda went 0-for-3 with a run scored Monday, but has four homers in his last seven games for Tampa Bay and owns the most homers in the history of Citi Field (71).

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, YES (New York), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees RH Sonny Gray (9-9, 3.22 ERA) vs. Rays LH Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36)

Gray won for the second time in three starts last time out at Baltimore when he allowed one unearned run and six hits over 5 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old Vanderbilt product yielded two or fewer earned runs in six of his seven starts since being acquired by the Yankees, but is only 3-4 despite a solid 2.74 ERA in that span. Evan Longoria is 10-for-26 with a homer versus Gray, who limited the Rays to two runs across 6 1/3 innings for a win July 19 while with the Oakland Athletics, improving to 3-2 with a 3.93 ERA in nine starts against Tampa Bay.

Snell is unbeaten in his past eight starts, but struggled in his last outing Wednesday against Minnesota when he permitted six runs on seven hits (two homers) across four innings of a no-decision. The 24-year-old had posted quality starts in four of his previous five outings while giving up eight total runs (seven earned) in 33 innings. Gary Sanchez is 3-for-6 with two homers versus Snell, who is 2-1 (0-0, two starts in 2017) with a 2.89 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees.

WALK-OFFS

1. Rays All-Star OF Corey Dickerson is 0-for-17 with 10 strikeouts in his last five games as his average dipped to .279.

2. New York 1B Greg Bird was a late scratch because of lower back pain and 1B Tyler Austin went 1-for-4 in his place.

3. Tampa Bay RF Steven Souza Jr. missed the series opener with a bruised knee, but could return Tuesday.

PREDICTION: Yankees 4, Rays 1

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