After a rough series against one of the AL East co-leaders, the Tampa Bay Rays must find a way to do better when they visit the other.
Looking to become the AL's first 18-game winner, David Price tries to help the Rays avoid matching a season high with a fourth consecutive loss Friday night against CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees .
Tampa Bay (77-66) scored two runs in each of its three games while being swept at Baltimore this week. The Rays recorded 12 hits but went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's 3-2, 14-inning loss.
They're 4 for 37 (.108) in such situations over their past six games."It's just the same old story: We can't score enough runs," said manager Joe Maddon, whose club has lost 13 of its last 16 games decided by one run.
Four games behind New York (81-62) and the Orioles in the East, and four back of the second wild card, the Rays likely won't have it easy at Yankee Stadium, where they have lost 10 of 14."Going to New York, we'll have another huge series for us," said outfielder Matt Joyce , who has batted .157 with 21 strikeouts in his last 22 games. "We have to rebound quick. I think we'll be all right."
New York will try for a third consecutive win after beating Boston 2-0 on Thursday.
"All we can do is control how we play," said Derek Jeter , who despite a sore ankle tied Willie Mays for 10th on the all-time hits list with his 3,283rd. "We know we have enough games left to where once again we have to win our games. That's the bottom line."
Though Tampa Bay has won five of the last seven against the Yankees, it's hit .215 and scored 18 runs while losing four of six in the Bronx this season.
Versatile Rays infielder Jeff Keppinger , however, is batting .400 (8 for 20) in his last five games and .417 (10 for 24) versus Sabathia (13-5, 3.56 ERA). Teammate Evan Longoria is hitting .378 (14 for 37) with three doubles and five home runs against the left-hander.
Sabathia is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in four starts against the Rays this season, but 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA in his last three outings overall. He allowed five runs and three homers in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss at Baltimore on Saturday.
Price (17-5, 2.54) is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts against the Yankees in 2012, but 1-1 with 4.50 ERA in the Bronx this season.
After his last scheduled start was skipped because of shoulder soreness, the left-hander returns to the mound for the first time since he allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-4 win at Toronto on Sept. 2.
"I don't think there's any limitations to what I can do," Price told the Rays' official website. "So I'm just looking to go out there and give us a chance to win.
"The biggest stage in baseball is in Yankee Stadium, facing their ace. So, it should be a good game, it should be fun."
Jeter is batting .429 (18 for 42) with seven RBIs in his last nine games, but is 2 for 24 against the Rays in New York this season.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|September 11, 2012||Ryan Roberts||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left forearm|
|September 08, 2012||Desmond Jennings||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|September 07, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder soreness|
|August 31, 2012||Sean Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|August 28, 2012||Matt Joyce||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left forearm|
|August 05, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Left game - upper back spasms|
|New York Yankees|
|September 09, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|September 02, 2012||Curtis Granderson||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring tendinitis|
|August 27, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 22, 2012||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right shoulder tightness|
|August 17, 2012||Mark Teixeira||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon insisted he was going back to his hotel to call his wife and finish an engrossing novel. That game out in Oakland: not on the agenda.
His team had other ideas.
David Price earned his league-leading 18th win with another superb performance against the New York Yankees , and the Rays opened a key series against their AL East rival Friday night by taking advantage of a fading CC Sabathia and hanging on for a 6-4 victory.
After being swept by the Orioles this week to fall four games back of division co-leaders New York and Baltimore, the Rays let loose - jumping around and clapping hands, Price said. They also had every TV in the clubhouse turned to the O's and A's.
Oakland beat Baltimore 3-2 and the Yanks and O's remained tied for first in the AL East.
"That was a big game for us, facing CC and that lineup," Price said. "We were up to the task."
Out of the rotation since Sept. 2 because of a sore shoulder, Price (18-5) boosted his AL Cy Young Award credentials with seven innings of two-run ball. Striking out six and giving up five hits, the lanky lefty got a big lift from an inadvertent deflection off an umpire and a fine play by second baseman Elliot Johnson .
Price improved to 7-3 against the Yankees. The Rays have won seven of the eight games he has matched up against Sabathia.
With Price out of the game, Alex Rodriguez hit his 647th homer, a two-run shot off Joel Peralta in the eighth that sent him past Lou Gehrig for ninth place on the runs list with 1,889 and scored Derek Jeter to make it 5-4.
Jeter, serving as the designated hitter for a second straight day because of an injured ankle, singled leading off to wake up the 45,200 fans that were silenced by Tampa Bay's rally against Sabathia (13-6). Jeter had an infield single in the fifth to pass Willie Mays for 10th on the hits list with 3,284.
After a walk to Robinson Cano , closer Fernando Rodney entered. The top reliever by ERA in the majors (0.66) struck out Russell Martin , threw a wild pitch and walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez . Curtis Granderson meekly grounded to end the threat and send many to the exits.
Rodney finished with a perfect ninth for his 43rd save in 45 chances.
"We had two Cy Young candidates pitch for us tonight," Maddon said. "Two guys at the top of their game. It was fun to watch."
The Yankees lost for the fourth straight time with their burly ace on the mound.
Sabathia was sharp early, allowing only a single through four innings. But he lost control of his breaking ball in the fifth and was done after allowing six hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings.
"I still believe in CC," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's a guy that's done so many special things for us here. So I still believe in him."
B.J. Upton homered off Cody Eppley leading off the eighth to make it 5-2.
Before the game, Maddon bemoaned his ballclub's inability to get the clutch hits in support of a stellar staff.
The bottom of the order helped turn that around.
Sabathia cruised into the fifth, allowing only hit in the first, but Chris Gimenez led off with a double for Tampa Bay's second hit. Gimenez advanced to third on a wild pitch and Carlos Pena walked. Johnson, the No. 9 batter, had an RBI single and Desmond Jennings followed with a run-scoring hit.
Another wild pitch put runners on second and third and the third run scored on Evan Longoria 's double-play grounder.
"It's no secret our offense - we're not big boppers. We've got to scratch and claw for runs," Gimenez said. "Any time you can get three runs off CC Sabathia is huge."
Granderson immediately pulled New York to 3-2 with his 38th homer, a drive that a just eluded the glove of a leaping Upton and bounced off the top of the wall and into the Yankees bullpen in right-center.
With one out Eduardo Nunez hit a hard grounder down the third base line that caught umpire Jerry Meals on the right knee as he tried to jump out of the way - as he came down, Meals smoothly motioned the ball was fair. It landed near the shortstop.
Whether or not the fans knew the ball deflected off the umpire who made an incorrect call to end a Yankees' loss in Baltimore a week ago, they booed heartily when Nunez ended up only on first base.
"I said to home plate umpire Scott Barry `That might be the best play he made in his life,"' Gimenez said. "It was much needed after the series we just had."
But the fans then broke out into a sustained standing ovation when Jeter hit an infield single off Johnson's glove at second base to pass Mays.
"It's kind of tough to think about it now, but yeah, it's pretty special," Jeter said. "Right now, there's a pennant race to think about."
Johnson didn't miss next time, though.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Rodriguez hit a sharp grounder. Johnson, shifted toward second base, made a diving stop in the hole and threw out A-Rod to end the threat.
Steve Pearce gave the Yankees the early lead a with an RBI single.
The Rays added a run in the ninth against Joba Chamberlain when Nunez, filling in at shortstop, made an error on Longoria's routine grounder.
NOTES: Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte (broken left ankle) threw off the main mound, and worked on his pickoff moves and covering first base. He's set to make his first start since late June on Tuesday against Toronto. He'll be limited to about 70 pitches. ... Rays INF Sean Rodriguez (broken right hand) is expected to be activated from the DL Saturday. He took infield practice Friday. Rodriguez was hurt while punching a locker at Triple-A Durham.