Look out Evil Empire-Here Comes Tampa

By ericschmidt

The Tampa Bay Rays completed a two game sweep of the Cleveland Indians yesterday with a 6-2 victory in which David Price got his 6th win, Price now leads the AL in victories. Price pitched 6 innings and over 65% of his pitches went for strikes. Price recorded 5 strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.81.Ironically, heading into the 2 game series the Rays possessed a 31-65 record against Cleveland, the worst against any team in the AL.A huge shoutout for the crowd at the Trop yesterday. 17,093 during a Tuesday afternoon 1pm game is great. Looking around the league, Baltimore only drew 9700, Oakland 10,512 and Florida drew 13,289. I watched a portion of the Florida Marlins game and I’d have to investigate how the Marlins record attendance because there was no way there were 13,000 people in seats.

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Rays relieve got the afternoon off after three straight appearances form May 15th-17th. Soriano continues to be perfect on the season with 10 saves in 10 attempts, a 0.94 WHIP and a 1.59 ERA. Soriano’s day off was needed as the Rays head north for a two game series with the Evil Empire, aka, the New York Yankees.

So here come the Yankees. It’s too early in the season to call a series critical, but it’s definitely important. Tampa has been playing at a blistering pace, recording the MLB leading 28-11 record but have been unable to create distance between the Yankees in the standings. With the Bawsteeen Chowda heads beat NY last night, the Rays currently hold a three game lead over New York, so a sweep in the two game series would be fantastic, giving the Rays a 5 game lead.

This is going to be a great series. New York is playing good ball. They have a 13-4 home record. The Rays are a league best 15-4 on the road. Tampa leads the league in run differential, New York leads MLB with 225 runs scored.

Here’s a little something to get you in the mood for tonight’s game.

The Yankees have a team BA of .278 but Tampa comes in with a MLB leading team 2.69 ERA, 4 shutouts, 294 K’s and opponents are only batting .223 against Rays pitching.  Tampa’s starters are also leading the AL with a combined 21 wins.

Tonight’s pitching match-up features Wade Davis (3-3 3.38 ERA) for the good guys matching up against A. J. Burnett (4-1 3.31 ERA) for the Evil Empire. On May 9th, the Red Sox sent Burnett to the showers after 4.1 innings, lighting him up for 8 earned runs and 9 hits, so the 4-1 record isn’t as daunting as it appears.

Tampa Bay’s bats have been a bit silent as of late but the past two games, many players are starting to find their stroke again. Yesterday, eight of nine starters had at least one hit, with only 2B Sean Rodriguez missing out on the hit parade. Rodriguez did manage to draw a walk and scored a run though and made a phenomenal play behind second base.

Thursday night’s game will match up James “Big Game” Shields (4-1 3.00 ERA) against a surprising Andy Pettitte (5-0 1.79 ERA) Don’t pencil in an automatic win for Pettitte just yet, Tampa is 13-4 against left handed pitching this year.

A series split would maintain Tampa’s 3 game lead, but how sweet will it be with a series sweep?

It’s nice of ESPN to feature the Rays on a National broadcast seeing they have MLB’s best record, but I will be watching on Sunshine Network. ESPN doesn’t seem to know that there are other teams in baseball other than the Yankees and the Red Sox. Let’s show the hacks in Bristol how it’s done tonight.

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