If it’s all about the pitching, it could be all about the Rays in the AL East.
The Yankees lead the majors with 203 home runs. The Rays have 134. But in their head-to-head match ups, the Rays have out-homered the Yankees 16-14.
If you’re slapping your forehead and wondering how that can be, please stop. It’s all about pitching. The Rays have more of it than almost anyone.
If pitching decides the American League East–and pitching almost always decides these deals–only a fool would bet against the Rays. The Rays had 10 players on the disabled list at one point early in the season, and they were 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees on July 18. they’ve gained 9 back since then.
- Last five American League teams to finish a season with an ERA as low as the Rays (3.25) went to the World Series: the 1990 A’s (3.18, lost WS), 1989 A’s (3.09, won), 1981 Yankees (2.90, lost), 1979 Orioles (3.26, lost) and 1978 Yankees (3.18, won).
- Rays ERA would be the lowest ERA by an AL team in 20 years.
- Rays lead the majors in ERA and opp avg. and the AL in strikeouts. Only one pitching staff since 1968 has led the AL in all 3 categories: 1999 Red Sox.
- Rays have allowed 104 runs over the past 44 games beginning July 19, fewest by a major league team over any 44-game span since the 1976 Dodgers. They’ve allowed 2 runs or fewer in 25 of those 44.
- Rays lead the majors with a 2.45 ERA since the All-Star break, including a major-league-best 1.47 ERA by the bullpen.
- The Rays have won Alex Cobb’s last seven starts. Against the Yankees on Tuesday, he retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced, including the last 10 in a row.
- Fernando Rodney is one of six pitchers to have at least six saves against the Yankees in a single season. Danys Baez (2005) and Bobby Thigpen (1990) had seven. Tom Henke (1993), Darold Knowles (1970), Lee Smith (1988) and now Rodney had six.
- Evan Longoria has four home runs in his last nine games and six in his last 18. The Rays are 19-9 since he returned from the disabled list and have outscored opponents 138-76.
- The Rays are 32-1`7 with Longoria in the lineup, 43-44 without him.
- B.J. Upton is hitting .274 with 20 extra base hits and 25 RBIs in his last 31 games.
- The Yankees have had a lead in seven of their last 10 losses.
- The Yankees have had six hits or less in five straight games, their longest streak since going six in a row August 30-September 5, 1990.
- Freddy Garcia has allowed 12 runs in his last 14 1/3 innings.