When the Tampa Bay Rays made their first trip to Yankee Stadium two weeks ago, they were just starting to roll.
Now they are on a full-blown surge and will attempt to get their sixth straight win and widen their lead in the AL East on Monday night when they visit the New York Yankees for the opener of an important three-game series.
The Rays lead the season series 6-1. They took three of four at home Aug. 7-9 and then completed their first sweep in New York since 2014 on Aug. 18-20.
Tampa Bay entered its first series with the Yankees holding a 5-7 record and trailing in the division. Since then, the Rays are a sizzling 19-4 and own a 3 1/2 game edge on the Yankees.
The Rays head to New York coming off a 12-7 win over the Miami Marlins that completed a three-game sweep and gave them a 12th win in 14 games.
“This team is talented,” said Rays left-hander Blake Snell, who noted before the first series that his team celebrates wins over the Yankees a little bit more. “We’re so excited to play, and it’s refreshing. Through all this, with no fans and everything, we still show up and the guys work hard. It’s a fun team to be a part of. Everybody wants to win, everybody knows we’re going to win. That’s the whole goal.”
Tampa Bay posted shutouts in the first two games and then scored its third-most runs of the season by hitting four homers on Sunday. Willy Adames hit a grand slam while Joey Wendle, Yoshi Tsutsugo and Kevin Kiermaier also homered.
“When you’re winning, everything is fun,” Adames said. “We talked about this at the beginning of the season, how it was going to be a little different, but I think we’re feeling really comfortable right now with the way that we’re playing and how we’re enjoying the season.”
New York’s three home losses to Tampa Bay were part of its first seven-game losing streak since June 13-20, 2013. The Yankees snapped the skid by getting three close wins over the New York Mets in games that were decided in their last at-bat.
On Sunday, the Yankees completed a doubleheader sweep by getting an 8-7 win in the opener and a 5-2 victory in the nightcap. Gio Urshela had the game-winning hit in the eighth inning of the first game and slumping catcher Gary Sanchez hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning of the nightcap.
“It’s just very important for us to get wins, especially with the Rays coming in,” Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks said. “That’s a team that we need to beat. We need to get back kind of into that winning spirit of expecting to win and knowing we have the ability to win, because we do.”
The first pitching matchup will be the third meeting between Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow (1-1, 5.14 ERA) and Gerrit Cole (4-1, 3.51 ERA).
They opposed each other in the Yankees’ 5-3 win in the first game of a doubleheader on Aug. 8 when Cole fell an out of qualifying for a win, and then again on Aug. 19 in New York in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win.
Glasnow last pitched Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles when he struck out a career-high 13 while allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings.
Cole last pitched in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Atlanta when his 20-game winning streak ended in a 5-1 loss. He allowed three homers in five innings and lost for the first time since May 2019.
Glasnow is 0-2 with a 4.91 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees while Cole is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA in six career starts against the Rays.
–Field Level Media