Are You Ready for a Short Skirmish!….Yankees versus the Rays
But the stark reality is that baseball is not played with a remote possibility of your opposing teams shaking or quaking with the fact the Rays are coming to their town. And in New York right now, there is no team within the MLB more hungry and willing to chew up and spit out the Rays with angst than the New York Yankees.
The plain fact that the Rays are going into Yankee Stadium for a two game series against their bitter rival, the Yankees, might seem as motivation enough to get fans of both team’s blood boiling and ready for action. But the Yankees are reeling a bit and might be just on the verge of biting back at someone after having a recent one game setback at the hands of those ruthless Boston Red Sox.
And even if Yankee supreme starter C C Sabathia threw last night in bean town trying to secure a series victory, this Yankees team is ready, willing and able to thrust a “L” upon the Rays without a moment’s notice.
And even with the sudden injury and Bullpen implosion situations befalling the Pinstriped ones lately, this Yankee team just seems to be able to reload their arsenal every night. This is not to forecast any sense of doom or gloom, or the remote possibility of the Rays not taking both critical games. But the reality is that both of the Yankees probable pitchers, A J Burnett and Andy Pettitte have their own unique versions of humiliating the Rays hitters. Most Rays fans might remember in the finals games of 2009, it was this same duo who took the wins in the last two Rays home games and it left a bitter taste in all of our mouths.
Do not let the fact be quickly dismissed that a series in Yankee Stadium is not a venture into extremely hostile territory on the field as well as the stands. The Pinstripes currently hold a 71-29 overall win advantage against the Rays in Yankee Stadium. And the Yankees easily walked into Tropicana Field during early April and handed the Rays two quick losses to provide some extra Rays incentive for this series. It is going to be a fight from the First Pitch tonight until the very last one on Thursday night to gain either some extra breathing room, or provide some cramped space towards the top of the American League East division.
But one interesting side note of this series is that even if the Yankees were to take both games, they could not regain the top spot in the AL East before the Rays leave because they are currently 3 games behind Tampa Bay. And the image is still fresh that the Pinstripes went 11-7 against the Rays in 2009, and have always played the Rays tough, even in lop-sided affairs.
The Yankees have currently won 9 out of the last 12 overall games played between the two foes. In 2009 contests at Yankee Stadium, the Rays went 6-3 and handed the Yankees their 11th home series crown in the last 12 years. In that 2009 span of games played in the Bronx, the Yankees lost their first three against the Rays, then sparked 6 straight wins at home against the Rays to secure their 4th straight seasonal home series victory at Yankee Stadium.
And even with the aspect of last night’s game in Boston possibly played out under protest, this Yankees team is still itching to get some residual payback at someone else’s expense for them losing a series to Boston 2-1. And the Rays might be entering the grounds of Yankee Stadium at a time that some might venture is a pitching debacle waiting to happen after Yankee closer Mariano Rivera and his set-up men suddenly looked mortal a few nights ago, but the reality is that this Yankee team is just like the Rays in that their memory is short when it comes to losses and they quickly prepare for the next butt-whooping instead of dwelling.
And do not think the Yankees will be looking too far ahead to their inner-city tumble against the New York Mets during the upcoming weekend. The team knows that their focus has to be securely on gaining some ground the AL East race before they put their ducks in a row to fight for the NYC bragging rights. But there is a lot at stake right now for the Yankees with the Rays coming into town. But the Rays can also do a lot of their own residual collateral damage to the Yankees Playoff hopes during this short series by posting up a win or two along the way. Scott Audette/Reuters
And with the MLB season almost a ¼ of a way done, any movement up or downwards in the American League standings is critical to both squads ultimate goals.
And it might seem that I am trying to dispel any hopes or positive energy here with these facts and figures. In reality I want to post the severity and the possibilities that this series could change the outcome of the final standings. I have always thought of each win against an AL East foes to be worth two wins, and each loss two losses. That is because it will take two wins against anyone else within the 162 games schedule to hopefully erase a single loss in the AL east division. But winning a series or even two games against your divisional foes can elevate your chance to landing in front of them two-fold ( in my thinking).
You only have to look at 2008 to see the instant ramifications of this thought process. In that season, the Rays 7-11 against the Yankees during the seasonal series and those four additional losses made the Rays final American League East record closer to Boston ( 2 games) than if they would have won two more games and boosted a four-game lead over the Red Sox.
In comparison, if the Rays had not gone 10-8 against Boston and split their seasonal series, the Rays would have then tied with the Red Sox for the AL East title. So to me, a win against a divisional rival takes on a double sense of victory and could play into the ultimate decision making process of this year’s AL East race, or a possible Playoff berth.
I guess the main message in all this rambling of words and phrases is that you can not take anything for granted this season. Not a single win or loss might tumble either of these teams to the possibility of not fulfilling their dreams, but a multiple effect of constant wins or losses could be beneficial or destructive to either teams march towards October.
I am anxious to get these game over with and see the Rays speed off to Houston where the complications are less extreme, and the losses less likely. But you can bet I will not be the only one sitting on the edge of my seat contemplating or even on the verge of hyperventilation during every play and pitch. This might seem only like a May match-up between divisional rivals, but these two game could become a pivotal point to either team’s destiny come October. And there is no harm in stockpiling Rays wins…ever.