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Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Nate Lowe hits a single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, July 14, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Rays look to close gap on Yankees’ division lead

After winning three of four against the Baltimore Orioles in their last series, the Tampa Bay Rays face the New York Yankees Monday in a four-game series that could be crucial in deciding who wins the AL East.

Hitting the Orioles Hard

A matchup against the lowly Orioles seemed to be the perfect opponent for Tampa Bay to shake off any potential All-Star Break rust.

The Rays exploded for twenty hits in a 16-4 rout of the O’s in the first game of the series. This marked a season-high in hits, runs, and margin of victory for the Rays.

Games two and three of the series came in the form of a Saturday doubleheader. After losing the day contest 2-1, the Rays came alive at night, winning 12-4. Yandy Diaz, Mike Brosseau, Tommy Pham and Nate Lowe (twice) homered in the blowout victory.

https://twitter.com/RaysBaseball/status/1150230936761409536

Although the impressive offense led them to their first two victories of the series, dominant pitching determined the last one on Sunday. Pitchers Ryne Stanek and Ryan Yarborough were perfect through eight innings in what was almost MLB’s first combined perfect game. However, a Hanser Alberto single in the ninth broke up the potentially historic pitching performance.

Tampa Bay scored six runs in the Sunday finale, bringing the total to 33 runs in the four-game series.

Catching the Yankees

The Yankees have won 15 of their last 20 games. They have the best winning percentage in the American League going into the four-game homestand beginning tonight. They also own a 9-4 record against the Rays this season.

Defending AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell will take the mound in New York Monday against James Paxton. Snell pitched to the tune of a 1.89 ERA last season but has struggled to replicate that form. He currently sports a 4.07 ERA.

Snell’s last start in The Bronx was disastrous. He registered only one out and got tagged for six runs in New York in June. The Rays are 1-5 when they travel to the Yankees this season.

First Pitch

The Tampa Bay Rays are six games back of the Yankees for first in the division. Game one of the series is tonight at 7:05 p.m. in New York. Our coverage starts at 6:30 p.m.

About John Miceli

I've seen how deeply sports can impact people, and I would love to share in that passion and commitment in any way I could as a career. I like all sports, but I love soccer and basketball. @johnmiceli13

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