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Game Preview: Thursday (4/27) at New York

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RAYS (9-12) at New York (10-9)
7:05; Yankee Stadium
FSN Florida; RAYS RADIO/1250 AM WHNZ

Pitching Matchup:

LH Mark Hendrickson

RH Shawn Chacon

Lineups

RAYS
LF Carl Crawford
3B Russell Branyan
DH Jonny Gomes
2B Ty Wigginton
1B Travis Lee
C Toby Hall
RF Damon Hollins
CF Joey Gathright
SS Tomas Perez

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 Bernie Williams

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-vs Boston, 7:15 (Fossum)

Saturday-vs Boston, 7:15 (Waechter)

Sunday-vs Boston, 2:15 (Kazmir)

WITH A WIN, THE COWBELL RETURNS!!!!!!!!!

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

RAYS (9-12) at New York (10-9)
7:05; Yankee Stadium
FSN Florida; RAYS RADIO/1250 AM WHNZ

Editor's Note-Rays News & Notes for yesterday will not appear due to time constraints. It will return tonight.

Pitching Matchup

Breakdown

LH Mark Hendrickson:

-Mark Hendrickson finally returns from shoulder stiffness as the Rays look to win the series on the road from the Yankees in New York. Hendrickson, who pitched a complete game, three hit shutout in his first start of the year before going on the DL, replaces a slew of spot starters that have appeared in his place, including Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel, both since optioned to Triple A Durham. Hendrickson looks to carry his good aura from that season opening start into tonight.

Hendrickson has been mediocre against New York in the past, which is better than a lot of people can say, having pitched to a 4.15 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, while striking out 15 and walking just six. Decent. However a few Yankees are happy to see Hendrickson starting tonight, here they are.......
Bernie Williams-30 ABs, .933, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Hideki Matsui-27 ABs, .752 OPS, 5 RBI
Johnny Damon-1.102 OPS
Jorge Posada-1.094 OPS, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Alex Rodriguez-1.006 OPS, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Gary Sheffield-1.318 OPS 2 HR, 8 RBI
Jason Giambi-1.010 OPS 1 HR, 5 RBI
Splits
Batter v. Pitcher

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen that many hitters have that much success against a pitcher in that many at bats. How could Hendrickson be pitching so effectively against New York with that many hitters doing well against him? Well, it is typical Mark Hendrickson. Hendrickson has a tendency to leave a lot of hittable balls over the plate, and that allows the hitters to determine their destiny. And that leads into what Hendrickson must do tonight to avoid New York stringing together enough hits to knock him out of the game, and you know they will. Hendrickson must control the game and not leave the game up to the baseball gods to decide where a ball will land, and if he isn't too careful, some of those balls could end up in the seats.

RH Shawn Chacon:

-Taking the mound for New York in their effort to win the series on their home turf is former Rockies right-hander Shawn Chacon. Chacon has had a bit of a rocky start to the season, going 2-1 with a 5.59 ERA, though his K:BB is decent at 14:8. His problem thus far is giving up too many hits, sound familiar? Chacon threw his first good start last time out against the Orioles, going seven innings and giving up one run, which was earned, on four hits and three walks, while striking out 3.

Chacon has faced the Rays a total of three times in his career, two relief appearances and one start, all of which came in interleague play when he was with the Colorado Rockies. He has not faced the Rays as a member of the Yankees. And he didn't have success against the Rays in limited experience against them, having given up eight runs, six earned, on 10 hits in 6.2 innings, walking three and striking out four. The Ray with the most at bats against Chacon? Former NL West compatriot Sean Burroughs, and he has a .545 OPS against him in 11 ABs. In fact, the only Ray with more than two at bats who has had success against Chacon in the past is Ty Wigginton, who has a 1.333 OPS and three RBI in six at bats against Chacon.
Splits
Batter v. Pitcher

For the Rays to have success against Chacon, they must, and I seem to say this everyday, they must have plate discipline. Chacon is not a home run pitcher, in fact, he has a relatively low home run rate on a nearly even G:F ratio. But he does have serious control issues. He has hit 49 batters and has walked 331 in his career, as opposed to 439 strikeouts. He has major control issues, and the Rays can help themselves by letting Chacon pitch into a few walks. Funny how this "patience" thing is a recurring theme.

The Bottom Line is....How sweet would it be to take the series from New York, on their home turf? For the Rays to do that, they must take some walks, and Hendrickson must be a little more assertive and must take more control of the game. With the lineup today, I doubt you will see the Rays playing small ball, but if they can string together some hits and get a walk or two, they can drive a pitch up in the zone and get more than a lone run on a solo shot. But overall, it will be interesting to see how Hendrickson reacts to returning after three weeks out.

Lineups

RAYS
LF Carl Crawford
3B Russell Branyan
DH Jonny Gomes
2B Ty Wigginton
1B Travis Lee
C Toby Hall
RF Damon Hollins
CF Joey Gathright
SS Tomas Perez

-Okay, let's start with Branyan in the No. 2 hole. Why? He has been struggling as of late and is not fast. Why? Why, I ask? Put Wigginton, Hollins, Gathright, or Perez there, preferably Perez, just not Branyan. Flip flop Gomes and Wigginton, put Branyan in the six hole, and move everyone else down a spot. But Branyan in the two hole, that makes no sense to me.

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 Bernie Williams

-A good lineup out there for New York today, all of their big guns hit the field, and Williams in the lineup is understandable considering his previous success against Herndrickson.

Upcoming Games

Tomorrow-vs Boston, 7:15 (Fossum)

Saturday-vs Boston, 7:15 (Waechter)

Sunday-vs Boston, 2:15 (Kazmir)

WITH A WIN, THE COWBELL RETURNS!!!!!!!!!

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