Rays at Royals, seeking a turnaround
The Rays are looking to close in on the AL East title tonight, but first they have to snap out of their latest September stumble that has seen them lose four of their last five against the league's three last place teams.
The Rays and Yankees are tied going into the final three games of the season, though the Rays have the tiebreaker in their advantage. The Yankees play at Boston tonight (weather permitting) and are using their "A" lineup, despite comments last week that they would rest key players in advance of the playoffs.
James Shields will be on the mound for the Rays tonight, hoping that he'll have another start next week in the division series. Shields acknowledged Thursday that he doesn't know if his spot is secure; manager Joe Maddon said the decision won't be based on how he does tonight.
Offense has again been a problem, as the Rays have scored just nine runs in the last five games (and four in the four losses.)
Maddon said there was "an outside chance" 3B Evan Longoria (strained left quad) could return today; he has been out since the Sept. 23 game in New York.
There also should be word today on the pitching plans for Saturday, and potentially for the playoffs.