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Game Preview: Wednesday (4/26) at New York

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RAYS (8-12) at New York (10-8)
7:05; Yankee Stadium
RAYS TV/PAX; RAYS RADIO/1250 AM WHNZ

Pitching Matchup:

RH Seth McClung

RH Chien-Ming Wang

Lineups

RAYS
LF Car Crawford
SS Tomas Perez
DH Jonny Gomes
3B Ty Wigginton
1B Travis Lee
RF Damon Hollins
C Josh Paul
CF Joey Gathright
2B Nick Green

New York
DH Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
RF Gary Sheffield
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Jason Giambi
LF Hideki Matsui
C Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
CF Bubba Crosby

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-at New York, 7:05 (Hendrickson)

Friday-vs Boston, 7:15 (Fossum)

Saturday-vs Boston, 7:15 (Waechter)

I will survive

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RAYS (8-12) at New York (10-8)
7:05; Yankee Stadium
RAYS TV/PAX; RAYS RADIO/1250 AM WHNZ

Pitching Matchup

Breakdown

RH Seth McClung:

-The Rays turn to the embattled Seth McClung to end their four game slide, and series of games in which the Rays have lost six of seven. McClung has been fired at from all sides, fans, the media, and, probably privately, his teammates. Yet it is times like these, when McClung seems one step out the door that he delivers a masterful performance that quiets his critics, at least for that night. And then the cycle begins again. Now, I'm not going to comment on whether he should be in the majors and "adjusting pitching strategy", that disturbed even me that he was doing that at the major league level. Still, McClung is in the majors, and manager Joe Maddon seems to have a lot of confidence in him, so we must trust Seth to right the ship once more. I believe I have said it 10 times, and I'll say it again.....he will shut down New York tonight. What does shut down mean? Well, I'll let Seth be creative, but I guarantee at the very least, a quality start, but I know what criticism does to a fiery guy like Seth, and you know he reads every word when you go to a message board and rail against him. You know that Seth uses that as motivation, and that criticism was at an all-time high last Friday night. Mark it down, Seth will have a tremendous outing, with the opposing team, the Yankees, further adding credence to that great outing, this isn't Kansas City anymore. I'll say it again, and make it bold Seth McClung will have a great outing. The rest, I'll leave it to him on the diamond.

Looking at his stats, you would not know where I was pulling that guarantee out of. To put it mildly, McClung has struggled mightily this season, giving up five earned runs in all but one start this year, with that start coming against Kansas City. Last time out McClung faced the Rangers on Friday, and was knocked around, giving up nine runs, six earned, on eight hits and three walks, while also giving up a home run.

In the past, he has not had success against New York, to put it humanely. In nine innings against New York over his career, McClung has a 14 ERA and 2.56 WHIP, while opponents have hit .366 off of him, and he has walked eight and struck out just six. With that track record, you would expect a few Bombers to have good track record against McClung, and you would expect right.....
Alex Rodriguez-6 ABs, 1.429 OPS, HR
Johnny Damon-6 ABs, 1.571 OPS, HR, BB
Jorge Posada-4 ABs, 1.100 OPS, BB
Hideki Matsui-4 ABs, .900 OPS, BB
Splits
Batter vs. Pitcher

I could go on, as even the three at bat Yankees have success against McClung, but keep in mind, it is a small sample size, so these track record could fluctuate with one start, and believe me, they will.

For McClung to have success against New York, he must limit his walks and rack up some K's. Not only so that I can get a free Rays ticket with 10 K's, but so that McClung has a chance to win. Control has been an especially big problem with McClung this season, and giving New York free bases with their lineup is not something you want to do, and you want to avoid letting them put the ball in play. Rack up those k's and save your fielders some effort, as well as control the game yourself, don't let the odds control the game.

I'll say it again, for kicks Seth McClung will shut New York down tonight, I truly believe it. If not? Don't worry, he will. I truly feel that he will, and if the Rays want to still win the series, they will need him to.

RH Chien-Ming Wang

-Taking the mound for New York is righty Chien-Ming Wang. Wang is 1-1 with a 5.48 ERA, yet is assured of keeping his rotation job until either Aaron Small or Jaret Wright come back from injury. He was one of the unexpected pitchers to help New York fend off tons of injuries and incompetent play to win their 10th straight division title and make it to the playoffs last year, going 8-5 with a 4.02 ERA on the season. Last time out against Baltimore, Wang was roughed up, and took the last loss that New York has suffered, going 5.1 innings and giving up six runs, all earned, on eight hits, while walking two and striking out one. The positive in that was that Wang got 14 groundball outs in the game, as opposed to just 1 through the air, and his G:F ratio this year is 42:13.

Wang did not have any success at all against the Rays during his rookie season last year, going 1-3 with a 6.94 ERA against the Rays in four starts as the Rays hit .337 off of him, tagging him with his only two losses of the year at Yankee Stadium. A few Rays, then, have good track records against Wang, although a few of those few are injured, no surprise.......
Carl Crawford-13 ABs, 1.308 OPS, 3 RBI, 3B, 3 2B
Julio Lugo-11 ABs, .792 OPS, 3 BB
Jorge Cantu-10 ABs, 1.500 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Aubrey Huff-8 ABs, 1.056 OPS, 2 RBI, BB
Nick Green-6 ABs, .833 OPS
Joey Gathright-5 ABs, 1.200 OPS
Splits
Batter vs. Pitcher

Some Rays actually have a decent-sized portfolio worth of at bats against Wang, although half of the players listed above will not be playing tonight.

For the Rays to beat Wang, they must take some pitches. As hard as that may be, especially with Carl Crawford back in the lineup, they must not swing at some of his stuff. He doesn't have the best of control, and if you start swinging wildly for the fences, which you probably won't get, considering his G:F ratio, you will end up swinging at balls in the dirt. His stuff isn't that good, his command isn't that good. Let him put himself into a hole. That is simply it, if the Rays can let some pitches go by, they will be sitting on the bench in the third inning saying "you know what I just realized??? He isn't that good". Funny things happen when you don't swing at two of the first three pitches, though strikeouts should be decreased anyways without Russell Branyan in the lineup.

The Bottom Line is...Throw out the stats, throw out past performances, today's game is about human nature. You have a fiery, competitive guy on the mound in Seth McClung, a guy who actually reads what the average Joe says about him on the internet. And right now, the average Joe is none too pleased with his performances, and the average Joe has been venting. I fully expect Seth to take that motivation into tonight's game and unleash it in the form of great breaking balls and scorching fastballs. And with Chien-Ming Wang opposing McClung, it should not be too hard to end up with some runs in support. The Rays have run up the score in the past on Wang, and I fully expect them to do it again. To put it simply, he isn't that good. For this reason, Seth should not only leave this game to a great outing, but also to a great outing with a win.

Lineups

RAYS
LF Carl Crawford
SS Tomas Perez
DH Jonny Gomes
3B Ty Wigginton
1B Travis Lee
RF Damon Hollins
C Josh Paul
CF Joey Gathright
2B Nick Green

-Eh, while I would prefer that Tomas Perez not be batting in the two hole, I'd rather let Ty Wigginton, for instance, go there. But because of the injuries, this isn't such a bad lineup. I think that, despite the fact that Branyan has a better track record against righties and that Damon Hollins isn't that good against righties, that sitting Branyan was the right move, not as a punishment, but just to give him a breather in hopes of getting a fresh start the next time he goes in the lineup. I like that move, and I like that Maddon kept Hollins and Nick Green, two lefty-only players forced into the roder due to injuries/poor play, relatively low in the order. I would honestly have Wigginton and Jonny Gomes switch spots, but other than that, this lineup is pretty sound, and overall, Maddon did a good job.

New York
DH Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
RF Gary Sheffield
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Jason Giambi
LF Hideki Matsui
C Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
CF Bubba Crosby

-New York puts out a really strong order today, as Cano takes over for Cairo, who was in yesterday, and although it may seem that they don't have the 'A' team out with the backup Crosby in, I really think that he is a better player than regular Bernie Williams. Other than that, New York's lineup is as strong as always.

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-at New York, 7:05 (Hendrickson)

Friday-vs Boston, 7:15 (Fossum)

Saturday-vs Boston, 7:15 (Waechter)

I will survive

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!