The biggest game in baseball on Wednesday night is the AL East showdown between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees took the second game of the three-game set on Tuesday, breaking a streak of six straight losses against Tampa and setting up the rubber match on Wednesday.
The game ended with a heated discussion soon after Aroldis Chapman threw a pitch over the head of Michael Brosseau . In the final regular-season meeting between the two teams in 2020, the Yankees are slight favorites at home with a moneyline of -115 while the Rays are listed at +105.
As mentioned, Tuesday’s win in the Bronx broke a run of six straight losses at the hands of the Rays. Tampa swept the Yankees earlier this month, jumpstarting a seven-game losing streak for New York. The Yankees are still trying to recover from that losing streak, remaining 3.5 games behind Tampa in the AL East, although a playoff spot appears safe.
As for the Rays, they ended August with a six-game winning streak before losing on Tuesday to open September. They went 13-2 during the second half of August to seize first place in the AL East. As mentioned, they lead the Yankees by 3.5 games and have the best record in the American League.
Charlie Morton will start for the Rays on Wednesday. The 36-year-old has been one of the few disappointments in Tampa this year. Coming off the best season of his career, Morton is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA over his first four starts of 2020 before going to the IL with should trouble. This will be his first start since coming off the IL, so it’s anybody’s guess if he’s ready.
The good news for Morton is that he will face a modified version of the New York lineup. The Yankees are dealing with a lot of injuries, so their lineup is missing the likes of Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton.
However, both Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu remain, and both have given Morton trouble int he past, going a combined 15 for 40 (.375) against Morton. LeMahieu, in particular, is red hot after hitting two home runs on Tuesday while Luke Voit has stepped up for the Yankees in their hour of need.
The Other Jordan
Lefty Jordan Montgomery will get the start for the Yankees on Wednesday. Injuries to the New York rotation have given him a chance to re-establish himself in the team’s rotation.
In five starts, he’s 2-1 with a 4.44 ERA. At times, Montgomery has looked sharp, although he may not be able to give the Yankees more than four or five quality innings. He also has little experience facing most of Tampa’s hitters.
Meanwhile, the Rays have put together a solid season offensively. Infielders Brandon Lowe and Willy Adames have surprised everyone with their performance. Both own an OPS over .900 to lead the way for Tampa.
Power from the rest of the lineup has been in short supply with Austin Meadows struggling to find his stride after a breakout campaign in 2019. But Meadows remains a threat while Yandy Diaz, Joey Wendle, Manuel Margot, and others are capable of contributing.
On paper, Wednesday’s game looks like an even matchup. In his return from the IL, Morton will be a wild card that’s hard to predict. However, given the way has dominated the Yankees this year and New York’s recent struggles, a slight edge goes to Tampa.
After the altercation after Tuesday’s game, the Rays will be motivated to make a statement. As slight underdogs, bet on the Rays to win on Wednesday.