The Tampa Bay Rays find themselves once again in the ALDS for the second year. The Rays will take on the New York Yankees in a best of five series beginning Monday night in San Diego.
The Rays advanced by beating the Toronto Blue Jays two games to none in their series, while the Yankees swept the Cleveland Indians in convincing fashion two games to none.
The Yankees series sweep of the Indians was a shocker. The Indians came into the post-season with the best pitching in baseball, and the Yankees beat them like a red-headed stepchild.
The Yankees put 22 runs on the board over two games as they swept the two games 12-3 and 10-9.
The Rays pitchers proved that they were ready for playoff baseball as they shut down the Blue Jays offense 3-1 and 8-2 in winning the best of three series.
The Yankees seemed to get their offense untracked the last week of the season as they rolled into the playoffs.
A lot of people had written the Yankees off and thought that it would be an early exit for the Bronx Bombers this post-season. That was not to be the case as the Yankees surprised a lot of people.
The Rays dominated the Yankees in the regular season as the Rays won eight games and lost only two.
This will be one of the most anticipated and entertaining matchups of the ALDS, as the Yankees will try to repeat the same success they had against Cleveland.
The Rays will start Blake Snell in game one, while the Yankees will send Gerrit Cole to the mound.
The Rays are expected to go with Tyler Glasnow in game two and Charlie Morton in game three.
The big concern for this Rays team is their lack of a consistent offense. We saw it all year as they would bang out 12 hits one game and then struggle to get five hits the next few games.
The Rays offense will have to put a more consistent attack together against the Yankees if they are going to win the series.
It was refreshing to see the Rays put eight runs on the board against the Blue Jays in the clinching game of their series.
Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam. Manuel Margot hit a home run in game one of the series and drive in a run in the second game.
Randy Arozarena continued to get timely hitting.
These two teams have created a great rivalry this season as there is no love lost between these teams.
On a zoom session with reporters, earlier yesterday, Rays outfielder Kevin Keirmaier added fuel to the fire with his comments saying that “They don’t like us, we don’t like them and it’s going to continue to stay that way.”
Here are some keys to the Rays winning the series.
-The Rays have to get to Cole like they did the last time they faced home. If the Rays can beat Cole and the Yankees in game one, it will be difficult for the Yankees to win the series.
-The Rays offense has to be more consistent. Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz are hopefully ready to do more than just pinch-hit. The Rays need their bats in the line-up.
The Rays need to play the way they did in the regular season, playing their way to the second-best record in baseball. The Rays had the next man up philosophy. And that is what happened as Josh Fleming, Nate Lowe, and Ryan Thompson all stepped up when called upon to help the Rays win the division.
Most of the national writers are picking the Yankees. Not because they are the better team, but because of their reputation.
I have followed the Rays all season. On paper, the Yankees have the better offense. The Rays have the better pitching.
The Rays pitching kept the Yankees bats in check during the regular season. I look for that trend to continue in this series.
That is why I am picking the Rays to move on to the ALCS as they will beat the Yankees in five games.