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Game Notes: Independence Day Baseball

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Nathan Karns vs Michael Pineda

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Although Chris Archer tossed 6 ⅔ innings of scoreless baseball and his offense scored five runs for only the second time in the last 14 games, the Tampa Bay Rays found a way to lose their sixth straight game in last night's series opener against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.

With two men on in the bottom of the 12th inning and his team down one run, the previously 0-4 Brian McCann crushed a Steve Geltz fastball into the right field bleachers, delivering a pre-4th of July firework show to the thinning Yankee Stadium faithful.

Last night's victory, coupled with the Baltimore Orioles' 1-0 loss against the Chicago White Sox, propelled the Evil Empire into sole possession of first place in the American League East. The Rays, meanwhile, dropped to only two games above .500 and now trail the division leading Yankees by two games.

It is hard to call many games in early July a "must win," but today's game is about as close as it gets. Losers of sixth straight, including 10 of their last 12, the Rays are in desperate need of a win in order to put an end to their worst losing streak of the season.

The Rays will send Nathan Karns to the mound to face the Yankees' Michael Pineda.

First pitch is at 1:05.

<!-- BEGIN WIDGET --><div class="pane sports_data_widget lineup clearfix"><h3>Today's Lineups</h3><div class="lineup"><table cellspacing="0" class="zebra"><thead><tr><th align="left">TAMPA BAY RAYS</th><th align="left">NEW YORK YANKEES</th></tr></thead><tbody><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Grady Sizemore - DH</td><td class="td-first td-name">Brett Gardner - CF</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Joey Butler - LF</td><td class="td-first td-name">Chase Headley - 3B</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Evan Longoria - 3B</td><td class="td-first td-name">Alex Rodriguez - DH</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">James Loney - 1B</td><td class="td-first td-name">Mark Teixeira - 1B</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Steven Souza - RF</td><td class="td-first td-name">Garrett Jones - RF</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Asdrubal Cabrera - SS</td><td class="td-first td-name">Ramon Flores - LF</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Kevin Kiermaier - CF</td><td class="td-first td-name">John Ryan Murphy - C</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Jake Elmore - 2B</td><td class="td-first td-name">Didi Gregorius - SS</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Curt Casali - C</td><td class="td-first td-name">Stephen Drew - 2B</td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name"></td><td class="td-first td-name"></td></tr><tr><td class="td-last td-name">Nate Karns - RHP</td><td class="td-first td-name">Michael Pineda - RHP</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><!-- END WIDGET -->

--Logan Forsythe gets the day off as Jake Elmore starts at second.

--Curt Casali gets the start behind the dish.

The Book on Michael Pineda

His 2014 season was cut short by suspension and injury, but Michael Pineda delivered a breakout performance after missing the entire 2012 season and most of the 2013 season due to a right shoulder injury. In 13 starts in 2014, the right-hander recorded a 1.89 ERA and 2.71 FIP.

Pineda's pedestrian ERA of 4.02 is not an accurate representation of his performance in 2015. In his first 15 starts of the season, he has graced the American League leaderboards, recording the eighth highest WAR among pitchers, the sixth lowest FIP (2.72) and the fourth lowest xFIP (2.72).

His heightened and misleading ERA can be credited to a .349 batting average on balls in play (MLB average is .289) and a left on base percentage of only 66.7% (MLB average is 71.6%). Compared to last season, Pineda is striking out an additional two batters per nine innings (9.23 K/9) and has increased his ground ball production by almost eleven percent (50%).

Here's a look at his arsenal in 2015:

Pitch Velocity Frequency
Cutter 93 mph

52.81% vs RHH

***

54.46% vs LHH

Change 88 mph

8.93% vs RHH

***

17.71% vs LHH

Slider 86 mph

38.14% vs RHH

***

27.38% vs LHH

Sinker 92 mph

0.13% vs RHH

***

0.45% vs LHH

Other Notes

--Chris Archer has been dominant on the road:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">His team may have lost, but Chris Archer continued his dominant season on the road in Friday&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StatOfTheNight?src=hash">#StatOfTheNight</a>. <a href="http://t.co/NOnBJ6Im9L">pic.twitter.com/NOnBJ6Im9L</a></p>&mdash; Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) <a href="https://twitter.com/BBTN/status/617179787409272832">July 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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--Some roster moves:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rays?src=hash">#Rays</a> optioned LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, selected LHP Everett Teaford and designated 1B/OF Marc Krauss for assignment.</p>&mdash; Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) <a href="https://twitter.com/RaysBaseball/status/617325294169530368">July 4, 2015</a></blockquote>

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