Tonight will be the first time that New York Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda will face the Tampa Bay Rays this year. The Rays will send out Chris Archer to counter the best starter for the Yanks. This is sure to be a great battle between two pitchers with sub-three ERAs for teams who are trying to make the playoffs.
Currently, Archer is 2-0 with a minuscule 0.60 ERA in his two starts against the Yanks this year. The last time he faced them on July 27, he pitched a complete-game shutout, only giving up two hits while walking no one and striking out six Yanks.
This is obviously not a good sign for the Yankees, who will be the road team in this pivotal series, but they are not the same team that Archer has faced in his first two starts. He didn’t have to deal with Alex Rodriguez or Curtis Granderson in the lineup. They also weren’t clicking the way they have these past two weeks, going 11-3 in their past 14 games.
One reason for the good play has been a surge in offensive production. In August, the Yankees are first in the AL in batting average, second in OBP, second in slugging percentage, first in OPS and third in stolen bases. That combination of speed, power and contact can only equate to wins, especially with some of the Yankees’ struggling starters beginning to pitch better in recent outings.
This should be a great game to start an extremely important series for both ball clubs, which will help determine the outlook of the playoffs.