The New York Yankees are trying to win back to back games over the Tampa Bay Rays since the first week in the season, after winning last nights series opener 8-6. Yankees center-fielder Curtis Granderson (.249/21/59) homered twice and tied his career high with five RBIs for the Yankees in yesterdays game. New York (91-59) currently sits 1.5 games ahead of Tampa (89-60), another win for the Yankees will ensure they remain on top of the AL East when the series ends. Granderson has been outstanding in the month of September homering six times, knocking in 17 RBIs keeping his average just below .300. The Yankees have also received some excellent production out of Alex Rodriguez (.275/25/112) and second-baseman Robinson Cano (.323/28/102). The Duo have combined to 38 hits, six home runs, 27 RBIs with A-Rod batting .327 and Cano around .306.
Tampa Bay has been getting phenomenal play out of Carl Crawford (.305/15/81), who’s been at a terror at home plate in September. Crawford, has been hitting an insane .391 average with a .443 On-base percentage. The guy is literally getting on-base half the time he’s at the dish. Tampa’s C.C. has 25 hits this month with four doubles and FIVE triples, to put that in perspective, Texas catcher Bengie Molina has six triples in 12 year career. The Rays haven’t been receiving the kind of out put they would like out of first-baseman Carlos Pena (.203/27/81). Pena’s disappointing season continues into September with six hits, one home run with four RBIs while batting below the Mendoza line .128 (FOR THE MONTH).
The Rays will have “Big Game” James Shields (13-12, 4.86 ERA) starting tonight. Shields in his last start (versus the Yankees, these two teams have played a lot recently. In fact these two started against each other in their last starts) pitched 6 and 1/3 innings — striking out eight — allowing one earned run in a 4-3 Rays win. “Big Game” has lived up to his reputation this season against the Yanks, in five starts versus the Pinstripe; Shields has two wins with a 2.51 ERA — struck out 36 while holding the Yankee batters to .230 BA.
New York sends young Phil Hughes (16-8, 4.31 ERA) to the mound. Hughes is enjoying a career year in wins (16), innings pitched (163), strike outs (134) and starts (27). The 6-5 righty went 6 and 2/3 innings — striking out five — Hughes gave up a pair of two-run homers to Dan Johnson that accounted for all four runs.