The Yankees try to avoid a third straight loss to the Devil Rays as the teams conclude their four-game series at Tropicana Field on Monday.
New York lost 11-4 to Tampa Bay on Sunday, dropping into a tie with Detroit for the best record in the AL. The Yankees (93-62) also lost 8-0 on Saturday to the Devil Rays—who have the second-worst record in baseball.
Pitcher Mike Mussina was forced to leave Sunday’s game after 4 2-3 innings after Carl Crawford’s liner hit him on the glove hand. Mussina could potentially pitch Game Three of the divisional series, and manager Joe Torre took no chances with the right-hander.
“It shouldn’t be any issue,” Torre said.
Mussina has a mild bruise at the base of his left thumb. The rest of the New York lineup also took a beating against the Devil Rays (60-95).
“It’s something about the concentration in games like this, and I take nothing away from the Devil Rays,” Torre said. “The intensity of how you go about it, it’s nothing you’re going to have a meeting on. They know what’s important. I’ve been very comfortable with the way we’ve approached it.”
Crawford went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and became the first player since 1930 to have 15 triples in three consecutive seasons.
“When you reach a milestone like that, it’s always a good thing,” Crawford said. “I have no clue why other guys haven’t done it.”
Ty Wigginton went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs for Tampa Bay, which has won three of four following a nine-game losing streak.
Win or lose, the Devil Rays will finish with a winning record at home for just the second time in franchise history. They went 41-39 in 2004 and are 41-39 heading into Monday’s contest.
Jae Seo (1-6, 4.10 ERA) looks for his first victory since July 29 when he starts for Tampa Bay. Seo’s last win came against the Yankees, when he allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings of the Devil Rays’ 19-6 victory.
Since then, Seo has gone 0-1 in eight starts, despite a 2.68 ERA. He also had a stint on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained groin.
Tampa Bay has scored only 2.11 runs in those starts for Seo, and he’s allowed more than two runs just once.
“(Seo’s) all about location, and when he’s got that going on, he’s real tough,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “And honestly, he’s the kind of guy who you feel whenever he pitches, you feel like you have a chance to win. He’s one of those guys.”
Seo is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in two starts against New York this season and 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees.
Jaret Wright (10-7, 4.52) looks for another solid start when he takes the mound for New York on Monday. Wright has pitched at least six innings in each of his last three starts, allowing only seven runs combined in those outings.
Despite his solid pitching, he has only one victory in his last seven starts.
Wright is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts against Tampa Bay this season and 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 career starts against the Devil Rays. He’s won five straight decisions, dating to 2000, and his teams are 8-2 against the Devil Rays with him on the mound.