Rays vs. Yankees, with first on the line
UPDATE, 6:03: Rays manager Joe Maddon said he chose Aybar as the DH tonight over Rocco Baldelli and Dan Johnson, who had some success (5-for-9) against Sabathia. Mostly, Maddon talked about Sabathia and Price, and also that he likes the look and feel of his team right now, comparing it to the vibe of '08. Maddon also said again that winning the AL East title was a priority and the Rays would approach these games like that. ...Yankees OF Nick Swisher is getting an MRI Tuesday on his left knee and will know more about his status then; Gardner had an MRI on his right wrist Monday which showed inflammation, but could be a couple days away from playing. He hopes to be able to swing Tuesday.
"I couldn't have picked up a bat today, that's how bad it was bothering me," Gardner said. "So it was a matter of figuring it out what's wrong. There's no point me going out there and playing if I'm whatever-percent."
UPDATE, 4:35: Yankees lineup without Swisher (left knee) and Gardner (right wrist):
UPDATE, 4:25: Rafael Soriano said he feels much better today: "Today I'm fine, I'm good to go."
UPDATE, 3:58: Pena is back in Rays lineup, hitting sixth again:
UPDATE, 3:52: Sounds like LHP Jake McGee is on the way to St. Petersburg but won't be added to the roster until Tuesday.
DEVELOPING: The Rays and Yankees meet tonight for the first of seven games over the next 11 days, and with first place in the AL East on the line.
After being swept in Texas, the Yankees are a half-game, and two percentage points, ahead of the Rays, with three weeks left in the season. Both teams say the games are important and will be intense.
The Yankees are having a tough of time of it, according to this piece by ESPN's Andrew Marchand, who writes:
The New York Yankees are in a free fall. They look like an old club, a step slow and fragile against younger, more vibrant teams. Understandably, their manager is testy.
Tonight's game features a marquee pitching matchup between two of the leading candidates for the AL Cy Young award, the Rays David Price and the Yankees CC Sabathia.
There is also an interesting piece in today's New York Times on Carl Crawford, discussing his past and his future. The best line from Crawford was on being compared to some of the game's top players: "You never see yourself as one of those guys. I feel like I’m in ‘Sesame Street.’ You know, one of these things is not like the other? That’s how I feel.”
Also, ex-Ray Aki Iwamura, released last week by the Pirates, signed with the A's.