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The New York Yankees host the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday in a key AL East showdown. The top two teams in the division split the first two games of the four-game series. The Yankees come in with a record of 60-31 while the Rays are 6 games back at 56-41. Left-hander JA Happ (7-5) gets the start for the Yankees while right-hander Charlie Morton (11-2) gets the start for the Rays. Game time is 7:05 p.m. Eastern at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Rays bullpen unravels
The Rays won the first game of the series 5-4 but then lost the second game 8-3. They sit 6 games behind the Yankees, not counting Wednesday’s game. The Rays were done in by their bullpen, specifically Colin Poche, who got rocked for 6 runs in the 8th inning. With a 3-2 lead, Poche gave up a two-run homer to Aaron Judge and a grand slam to Didi Gregorius. It was a shocker for the Rays who thought they had another win over the Yanks. With the best pitching staff in baseball, they don’t blow many games like this. Willy Adames had 3 hits for the Rays while Yanny Diaz had 2 hits including a home run and 2 RBIs. Austin Meadows also had a home run.
The Rays offense has steadily gotten better. The Rays average 4.7 runs per game, which is 18th in the league. They have a team batting average of .256, which is 11th in the league and they have a slugging percentage of .433, which is 16th. They are 17th in home runs. Austin Meadows leads the Rays with a batting average of .291 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. Brandon Lowe is batting .276 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs, while Ji-Man Choi is batting .266 with 9 HRs and 33 RBIs. Yanny Diaz is batting .280 with 13 HRs and 36 RBIs, while Tommy Pham is batting .278 with 15 HRs and 42 RBIs. Avisail Garcia is hitting .280 with 12 HRs and 45 RBIs, while Kevin Kiermaier is hitting .252 with 10 HRs and 43 RBIs. Both Lowe and Choi went on the 10 day IL before the break.
Judge and Gregorius lead Yankees
The New York Yankees snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a huge 8th inning Tuesday to beat the Rays 8-3. Aaron Judge blasted a 2-run shot in the 8th off Colin Poche and then Didi Gregorius blasted a grand slam to give the Yanks the win. It allowed them to increase their lead over the Rays back to 6 games. Edwin Encarnacion and DJ LaMahieu also hit home runs. It was a big win as the Rays had won the first game of the series and another win by the Rays would have cut the lead to 4 games.
DIDI GREGORIUS HAS ENDED THE RAYS SEASON WITH THIS GRAND SLAM!!! pic.twitter.com/QLq4nHUGKQ
— Mehtaphors (@mehtaphors1) July 17, 2019
The Yankees are one of the best offensive teams in the league. They average 5.7 runs per game, which is 3rd in the league. They have a team batting average of .265, which is 6th in the league, and they have a slugging percentage of .464, which is 4th in the league. They are 5th in home runs. DJ LaMahieu has been on fire. He leads the Yankees hitting .331 with 16 HRs and 65 RBIs. He is 4th in the majors in batting average. Gary Sanchez is batting .240 with 24 HRs and 57 RBIs, while Luke Voit is hitting .275 with 17 HRs and 50 RBIs. Gleyber Torres is hitting .290 with 19 HRs and 50 RBIs while Edwin Encarnacion is batting .225 with 28 HRs and 63 RBIs. His 28 HRs are 5th in baseball. Also, Aaron Judge is hitting .304 with 10 HRs and 23 RBIs while Gio Urshela is hitting .301 with 8 HRs and 42 RBIs.
The Yankees pitching has been solid. They have a team ERA of 4.08, which is 8th in the MLB. Also, they have a team WHIP of 1.28 which is 10th. JA Happ gets the start for the Yankees on Saturday. The left-hander is 7-5 on the year with an ERA of 4.93. Happ was solid in a loss last time out, giving up 2 runs in 5.1 innings.
- Rays are 5-0 in their last 5 during game 4 of a series.
- Rays are 4-1 in their last 5 road games vs. a left-handed starter.
- Rays are 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter.
- Rays are 6-2 in their last 8 vs. American League East.
- Rays are 6-2 in their last 8 overall.
- Rays are 5-2 in their last 7 road games.
- Rays are 4-1 in Morton’s last 5 starts vs. American League East.
- Rays are 8-3 in Morton’s last 11 road starts.
- Rays are 5-2 in Morton’s last 7 starts following a Quality Start in his last appearance.
- Rays are 7-3 in Morton’s last 10 starts
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Take the Rays. I have a hard time picking against Morton, even on the road, even against the Yankees. The Yankees are one of the best hitting teams in the league but Morton has been so consistently good, i don’t see them scoring more than a few runs off him. Happ, on the other hand, is inconsistent. With an ERA near 5, he is prone to get hit pretty hard. Also, the Rays have won their five game 4s of a series, so they have been good at close out games.
Prediction: Tampa Bay +117
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under. I just and not picking the over with Morton on the mound, even against the Yankees. The over-under is set a little high here so I’m going with the under in what will be a close game. Both of the first two games have been fairly tight, other than that grand slam by Gregorius. Look for that to continue here. The under is 22-8-2 in Rays last 32 road games vs. a left-handed starter. Also, the under is 5-1-1 in Yankees last 7 overall and 5-1 in Happs last 6 home starts.