Of the Yankees’ remaining 74 games of the 2010 regular-season schedule, 13 are against the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s nearly 18% of all remaining games for the Yankees against the rival best team in baseball. The first of those showdowns between the two powerhouses begins today.

For a snapshot of where we are today, July 16, the AL East Standings look like this:

New York Yankees..56-32 .636 –
Tampa Bay Rays….54-34 .614 2.0
Boston Red Sox…..51-38 .573 5.5
Toronto Blue Jays..44-45 .494 12.5
Baltimore Orioles….29-59 .330 27.0

The Yanks and the Rays are currently the only .600 teams in baseball. But with so many head-to-head contests looming that may change. After all, someone has to lose. That’s about the only thing going for the Red Sox right now.

Looking ahead to this first series after the All-Star Break, the pitching match-ups are as follows:

LHP CC Sabathia (12-3, 3.09 ERA) vs. RHP James Shields (7-9, 4.87)

RHP A.J. Burnett (7-7, 4.75) vs. RHP Jeff Niemann (7-2, 2.77)

LHP Andy Pettitte (11-2, 2.70) vs. LHP David Price (12-4, 2.42)

Jeez, the Rays have some pretty good pitchers, don’t they? Facing Niemann and Price over the weekend doesn’t look like much fun for the Yankees hitters. It was David Price, after all, who mowed down the best NL hitters in baseball in his start of the All-Star Game earlier in the week. The only match-up here that favors the Yankees is tonight, the Yanks’ ace against the Rays’ worst-performing starter. But even James Shields has his good days, and tonight is no gimme.

The secret to the Yanks’ success for this series? They need to make sure they take Friday night’s game, in what is sure to be an emotional event following the death of longtime owner George Steinbrenner. Then hope that the Good AJ shows up on Saturday or Andy continues his dominance on Sunday. Either of those outcomes doesn’t guarantee a win against the likes of Niemann or Price, but that’s their only hope to walk away with 2 out of 3.

Either way, baseball is back.


From the FanTake blog: Mr. Blogtober

Follow on Twitter: @Mr_Blogtober

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