Sunday’s pitching matchup appears to heavily favor the Yankees in the finale of a three-game road series against the Rays.
Burnett (0-0, 5.40 ERA) enjoyed his most success in his first season with New York (3-2) against Tampa Bay, going 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in five starts. He posted a 1.35 ERA in winning all three road starts, with 17 strikeouts and four walks.
The right-hander has always pitched well at Tropicana Field, going 5-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 10 career outings with two of his 20 career complete games.
Burnett has fared very well against B.J. Upton(notes), who is 6 for 29 (.207) with 15 strikeouts against him, and Carlos Pena(notes), who is 3 for 29 (.111) with 12 strikeouts. Carl Crawford(notes) (.341) and Evan Longoria(notes) (.320) are the only Rays (3-2) with at least five at-bats to hit better than .240 versus Burnett.
If that’s not enough to tilt this matchup in favor of New York, facing Shields (0-0, 4.50) might be. The Yankees are 8-1 in games started by Shields, winning all four at Tropicana Field.
The right-hander has a 6.00 career ERA against New York, including a 5.61 ERA at home where he has yielded seven total homers to the Yankees in losing every outing.
Shields allowed three runs over six innings on opening day for Tampa Bay in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Baltimore. The Rays have won his last three home starts after losing the previous six.
Burnett, meanwhile, lasted five innings Tuesday and gave up four runs in a 6-4 victory at Boston.
The Yankees No. 2 starter will have a tough act to follow after ace CC Sabathia(notes) came four outs shy of a no-hitter in a 10-0 victory Saturday. Kelly Shoppach(notes) lined Sabathia’s 111th - and last - pitch into left field for the Rays’ first hit with two outs in the eighth.
“You want to see it preserved as long as possible, even if it takes two pitchers. Our defense was great behind him,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Alex (Rodriguez) had all kinds of plays. That’s what you need when you’re going through what CC was going through. You have to have some great defense.”
Sabathia was pulled due to the high pitch count. He earned his first win as he walked two and struck out five to stifle a Tampa Bay offense that had all nine starters produce at least one hit in Friday’s 9-3 victory for the Rays in the series opener.