With three of the five worst teams in the American League residing in the East, it is hard to believe that there is only a five-and-a-half game difference between the first-place New York Yankees and the cellar-dwelling Boston Red Sox.
In the first two months of the season there was overwhelming parity in the division of underwhelming mediocrity, as none of the teams were able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
However, the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to change that in the month of June.
After ending their six game losing streak with a win against the Baltimore Orioles last Saturday, the Rays have won five of their last six games. Meanwhile the Yankees, after suffering a six game losing streak of their own in the second half of May, have won four of their last five games and seven of their last ten.
Although the Rays are a half game behind the Yankees for the division lead, they have created a four game cushion between themselves and the third place Toronto Blue Jays. Furthermore, the Rays have a half game lead on the Texas Rangers for the second wild card spot.
Three cheers for early-season scoreboard watching.
In tonight's game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, the Rays will send Jake Odorizzi to the mound in hopes of extending the team's win streak to four games. In his last appearance against the Baltimore Orioles on May 31, Odorizzi picked up the win despite allowing four earned runs on three home runs over the course of six innings.
The Mariners will give the ball to J.A. Happ to face the Rays for the second time this season. In his last start against Tampa Bay on May 26 at the Trop, Happ pitched six innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and a walk.
In ten starts this season, the 32-year-old southpaw has posted an ERA and FIP of 3.70.
First pitch is at 10:10 pm.
|TAMPA BAY RAYS||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Brandon Guyer - LF||Logan Morrison - 1B|
|Joey Butler - DH||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Evan Longoria - 3B||Nelson Cruz - RF|
|Logan Forsythe - 2B||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Steven Souza - RF||Mark Trumbo - DH|
|Jake Elmore - 1B||Seth Smith - LF|
|Asdrubal Cabrera - SS||Brad Miller - SS|
|Kevin Kiermaier - CF||Mike Zunino - C|
|Bobby Wilson - C||Dustin Ackley - CF|
|Jake Odorizzi - RHP||J.A. Happ - LHP|
J.A. Happ's Arsenal and Approach
Happ uses his fourseam fastball predominantly against right-handed hitters and his sinker almost exclusively against left handed hitters, working low in the zone with both pitches. He will use his changeup only against righties and he will use his cutter five times more often against lefties. His curveball is evenly distributed between batters of either orientation.
Against right handed hitters, Happ has thrown his fourseam fastball 34% of the time and his sinker 31% of the time. He throws either one on the first pitch 71% of the time. When the hitter has two strikes there is a near one-in-three chance that a curveball is coming to the low, inside corner.
Against left-handed hitters, Happ has thrown his fourseam fastball 66% of the time and especially when he is behind the batter. When he is ahead of the batter or when there are two strikes there is a one-in-three chance that a curveball is coming to the low, outside corner.
--If I am reading this correctly, this means that 21 of the Rays' 29 victories have come when the pitching staff has allowed 2 or fewer runs. Is that right? Talk about putting the team on your back.
Thursday was AL-most 26th time (in 55 games total) #Rays allowed 2 or fewer runs; they are 21-5 in those games— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 5, 2015