Alex Colome may have been fortunate to face baseball's lowest-scoring team in his first major league start.
Now, more than three weeks later, the Tampa Bay Rays rookie takes on another slumping lineup but also the sport's most storied franchise as he pitches against the New York Yankees on Saturday in the Bronx.
Colome (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is being brought back up from Triple-A Durham to fill in for Alex Cobb, who remains sidelined due to a concussion.
In his big league debut, Colome held Miami, which has scored a big league-low 3.1 runs per game, to an unearned run in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-2 road victory May 30. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out seven, walked two and allowed five hits.
"I was most impressed with his ability to stay calm throughout the whole thing, but his stuff is a little bit overwhelming. It's really good," manager Joe Maddon said.
In his second start, Colome will look to do the same against a Yankees squad that has scored 63 runs in June, tied for third-fewest in baseball. They've hit .209 with four homers in the last 13 games.
Still, New York (40-33) showed signs of breaking out in Friday's 6-2 victory over the Rays. In just his third major league game and his first start, left fielder Zoilo Almonte went 3 for 4 with a homer.
"It was a sign that things are starting to be where they should be," Almonte said through a translator.
Lyle Overbay, meanwhile, had his first multihit game of the month and has hit safely in five straight games following a 9-for-52 slump. After going 10 contests without an RBI, Overbay has four in his last five games.
While Colome seeks his second major league win, Yankees starter CC Sabathia (7-5, 3.93) is two shy of 200. He picked up his 198th victory Sunday as he gave up five hits and two runs in eight innings of a 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Sabathia has been particularly good at Yankee Stadium, going 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in his last seven starts there. New York has won his past three home starts as he's recorded nine-plus strikeouts in each, most recently throwing a complete game against Cleveland on June 5. He has 59 strikeouts in 57 2-3 innings at home, compared to 30 in 45 1-3 frames elsewhere.
The left-hander was on the road for both of his matchups with the Rays (38-36) this season and lost both. He's dropped three consecutive starts against them, posting a 6.97 ERA, and is winless in five straight versus Tampa Bay.
Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist has had plenty of trouble with Sabathia since the start of 2010, striking out 20 times in 52 at-bats and managing only nine singles for a .173 average. Zobrist enters with three multihit games in a row and a .338 average in June.
Sabathia has had less success when facing Evan Longoria, who has a .491 on-base percentage against him with five home runs and three doubles in 45 career at-bats. Longoria had two home runs in the series opener before going 0 for 4 on Friday.
If Sabathia doesn't go the distance, the Yankees will look for their bullpen to build off 3 1-3 scoreless innings Friday after having surrendered runs in eight straight appearances. During that stretch, New York's relievers posted a 5.47 ERA with 18 walks in 24 2-3 innings while surrendering a .305 batting average.
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