|Yankees, Rays to play twin bill in the Bronx|
Two doubleheaders on one road trip are hardly ideal for any team, but the Tampa Bay Rays are embracing a chance to possibly freshen up some bullpen arms while getting two chances in the same day to inch closer to the New York Yankees in the AL East race.
Instead of attempting to play through rain and projected thunderstorms at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, the teams opted for a single-admission doubleheader to conclude their four-game series on Thursday.
The Rays will be playing their fourth doubleheader of the season after experiencing rainouts in Boston, Kansas City and Baltimore. The Rays lost their first doubleheader and then split the next two, most recently Saturday when they took a 2-1 loss and followed with a 12-4 win.
"We'll see," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of playing two doubleheaders on the same trip. "We're going to find out. I kind of like the off day to freshen up the bullpen a little bit."
The Rays will take the field after the Yankees evened the series by scoring six times in the eighth against Colin Poche in Tuesday's 8-3 win when Aaron Judge hit a go-ahead three-run home run and Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam. Those home runs pushed Tampa Bay's deficit to the Yankees to six games.
The Yankees lead the season series 10-5 and are playing their fourth of six doubleheaders. They swept two games at home from Baltimore and in Kansas City in May, split with the Mets on June 11 and will play Boston and Baltimore in day-night doubleheaders on Aug. 3 and 12 respectively.
The Yankees enter the doubleheader with 11 wins in their last 16 games but before Tuesday's late rally, they had scored less than five runs in a season-high seven straight games.
"They do a good job of kind of playing the whole game out and when you have a good offense like we do and we have a collection of really good hitters, you put yourself in a position to have some of these comeback wins," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The pitching matchup for the opener features two young right-handers in good grooves of late -- Tampa Bay's Yonny Chirinos (8-4, 3.11 ERA) and New York's Domingo German (11-2, 3.40).
Chirinos began this season splitting time as a starter and a reliever but has made nine straight appearances as a starter since May 27. In those outings, he is 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA, and he hopes his teammates start off fast for him again Wednesday.
Chirinos allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings Friday in Baltimore. He had a seven-run lead before throwing a pitch.
He is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in six career appearances (three starts) against the Yankees.
German, who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts since returning from a hip injury, pitched six innings of three-hit ball on Friday in a 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
He is 2-0 with a 6.75 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against the Rays.
Tampa Bay's Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.35) will start the nightcap and he seeks his fourth straight win. He will pitch in a doubleheader for the second straight time after pitching six innings of two-run ball in Baltimore.
Morton is 3-1 with a 4.00 ERA in six career regular-season starts against the Yankees.
The Yankees did not announce a starter for the nightcap, opting to push back J.A. Happ to Friday. They will likely employ the opener based on what pitchers get used in Game 1.
--Field Level Media