Tampa Bay (64-54) at New York (71-46)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: New York, NY
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 4:10 pm EDT Sat Aug 13, 2011
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While the Tampa Bay Rays put on a dazzling display of power, the New York Yankees had one of their worst performances at the plate in nearly three weeks during the opener of a three-game series.

The Yankees’ chances of rebounding with a better effort don’t appear overly promising with Jeremy Hellickson(notes) scheduled to take the mound.

The rookie right-hander will try to earn a career high-tying fourth straight win while helping the Rays claim a season-best sixth consecutive victory Saturday.

Tampa Bay (64-54) hit five solo shots off ace CC Sabathia(notes) on Friday en route to a 5-1 victory. Casey Kotchman(notes), Kelly Shoppach(notes) and former Yankee Johnny Damon(notes) all went deep in the third inning.

Elliot Johnson(notes) and Evan Longoria(notes) later made Sabathia the first New York pitcher to allow five homers in a game since David Wells in 2003. The Rays’ previous high for home runs this season was three.

The Yankees, meanwhile, had five singles and a double while being held to one run for the first time since a 2-1 loss in Tampa Bay on July 21.

Hellickson (10-7, 3.05 ERA) has given up one run in each of his past two outings but did not get a decision in a 2-1 victory over Kansas City on Monday while striking out seven over 7 1-3 innings.

Hellickson earned a win in his only previous start against New York on July 19, allowing two runs and five hits over seven innings of a 3-2 victory.

Because of the All-Star break and some shuffling of the Rays’ rotation, the right-hander got 15 days off before that start but will be working on four days’ rest for the first time since June 15.

“It’s like anything else. He’s going to have to get back on the routine,” manager Joe Maddon told the team’s website. “There’s no question that could be a factor. As we move forward, we feel comfortable that he’s in a good place with the number of pitches thrown and the number of innings thrown.”

The Yankees (71-46), meanwhile, are hoping Phil Hughes(notes) (2-4, 7.11) can build on a pair of solid starts in what could prove an important performance for his future.

New York manager Joe Girardi is planning to move back to a five-man rotation next week and Hughes is one of the candidates to get sent to the bullpen or the minors.

“Our idea is to pare things down, but you wait to see what happens tomorrow and you wait to see what happens Sunday,” Girardi told the team’s website. “I don’t really have to make a decision until Monday. We can prepare guys to start. … This is a big series for us.”

Hughes gave up the final run in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat in 10 innings at Boston but had a 1.50 ERA over his previous two outings.

He tossed a three-hitter over six innings in a rain-shortened 6-0 win over Chicago on Aug. 2 for his first career shutout and first scoreless start since May 12, 2010.

Hughes is 2-3 with a 4.45 ERA in five career starts against the Rays and earned one of those wins Sept. 21 at Yankee Stadium, giving up three runs and four hits over 6 1-3 innings.

Hughes, though, hasn’t pitched well at home this season, going 0-2 with a 9.16 ERA in four starts.

Kotchman is batting .447 with four HRs and eight RBIs in his last 10 games, but is 0 for 7 lifetime against Hughes.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Hellickson Ari vs. P. Hughes Min
13-10 Record 5-5
2.95 ERA 5.79
117 K 47
72 BB 27
1.15 WHIP 1.49


Saturday, Aug 13