It seems like just yesterday that 20-yr Alex Rodriguez stepped in as Seattle’s everyday shortstop and posted one of the best offensive seasons of the last 15 years (.358-.414-.631, 54 doubles, 36 homers, 123 RBI), but 531 homers later, that young hot shot prospect is turning 34. Now hitting cleanup for the Yankees, A-Rod’s career has had far more ups than downs, but he’s still looking for that elusive World Championship.
Tampa Bay, the team that fell short of that World Championship just last year, comes into tonight’s game 6.5 games back of the Bombers for first place, sporting one of the best home records in the game. Their run differential (+73) isn’t far off from the Yanks’ (+77), and they’re 24-14 in their last 38 games. The Rays are an excellent ball club stuck in a brutal division, and this three game set in Tampa is clearly the biggest series of the Yankees’ season to date. It’s time for the boys to start distancing themselves from the pack.
Primo pitching matchup tonight, as the streaking AJ Burnett (2.31 ERA in his last ten starts) takes on the steady if unspectacular Jamie Shields. Here’s the starting nine:
Birthday Boy, 3B
And on the mound, Allen James Burnett.