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Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees aces eye lineups, not each other

NEW YORK — LHP David Price acknowledges that tonight's rematch with Yankees ace CC Sabathia will be fun, but his concerns, perhaps a bit exaggerated, are on the Yankees' lineup.

"What've they got, seven Hall of Famers in there?" Price said. "That says enough."

The Yankees are not quite that good, but his point is valid since all he and Sabathia will share is the mound.

"I don't have to face CC, so I don't really do too much worrying about him," Price said. "They've got one through nine that can do a whole lot of damage, so that's what I focus on."

That's not all that different from the way Sabathia, who is seeking his 21st win, looks at the Rays.

"I'm not facing him, I'm facing their lineup," he said. "I'm going to look to put up zeroes."

Both did that eight times each when they met in a dazzling duel at the Trop on Sept. 13, with the Rays going on to win 1-0 in 11 innings, so there isn't much they can do for an encore tonight.

Rays manager Joe Maddon expects them to be just as good.

"A lot of the same, a lot of what we saw last time," he said. "There's no reason to expect either one to be any different. They were both superb last time out, and I really believe you're going to see the same kind of game."

PEÑA, UPTON OUT: Maddon tends to take a positive view of everything. But he disliked what he saw from 1B Carlos Peña and CF B.J. Upton enough to drop both from Wednesday's lineup.

Upton's issue is fatigue, and Maddon believed the outfielder looked tired enough that he got a second day off in a four-game span, having also rested Sunday. Upton, hitting .161 (5-for-31) in his last nine games, is scheduled to be back in the lineup tonight.

Both players entered as late defensive replacements in Wednesday's game.

"B.J. had a great August into September, but he's slowed down a little bit. I just think he's tiring out just a bit," Maddon said. "Just watching his swing, it's a little bit lengthy I think compared to what he was doing earlier."

Upton said he "really needed" Sunday's day off and had no problem with getting another. "It's kind of getting to that time where guys are not necessarily running out of gas but getting a little tired," he said.

"I can't say it's a comfortable lead in the (playoff berth) standings because anything can happen, but things are starting to shape up so maybe it's just thinking ahead a little bit."

Peña's absence is performance related, evidenced by a .201 average that is the lowest of all major-league regulars. He will also get tonight off against Sabathia.

"It's kind of a nice two days to give him off to really try to rearranged how he's thinking a little bit," Maddon said.

Peña, who'd already been dropped to seventh in the order, said it stung to be benched for two days, but he would seek to make the best of it, remembering how his career was resuscitated when he came to the Rays.

"That's something I absolutely don't want, and I know that it's not what I intended," he said. "But at that point, you ask yourself, 'What can I do?' "

THE P-WORD: Maddon was careful to not sound presumptive when asked about playoff plans, but he did say the Rays "most likely" would use four starters in the best-of-five first round and that it remained a possibility they would carry three catchers (allowing Dioner Navarro to be used as a defensive replacement). Maddon said he had taken only "superficial" looks at their potential opponents, the Rangers and Twins.

BYE, GEORGE: First base coach George Hendrick found himself a little too close to the action in the third inning when Ben Zobrist hit a screaming foul and Hendrick had to hit the deck to avoid being struck in the head. When Zobrist came back into the clubhouse during the rain delay, Hendrick was sitting in front of his locker with his arms crossed and a mock glare. "He said, 'I know I keep telling you to get the head (of the bat) out, but that's not what I meant,' '' Zobrist said. The Rays had good fun with the incident, as they already had a photo of Hendrick on the ground printed and hung in the clubhouse.

NO JAKING: Rookie LHP Jake McGee said he felt relaxed coming into Tuesday's game with two on in the sixth inning in front of a hostile crowd. Since his rocky debut, McGee has retired all five batters he has faced, and he has been clocked as high as 98 mph.

TV: Wednesday's game, originally scheduled just to be shown locally on Sun Sports, also was on ESPN in the Tampa Bay market because ESPN has the right to have the blackout waived twice a year for each team. … Tuesday's game drew an 8.0 TV rating (145,006 households) according to Sun Sports, higher than the NBC and Fox lineups for the night.

MISCELLANY: Kelly Shoppach (5-for-15 against Sabathia) will catch tonight, with Ben Zobrist a possibility to start at first. … C John Jaso set the team rookie record with his 59th walk, surpassing Akinori Iwamura (2007).

Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees aces eye lineups, not each other 09/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 23, 2010 9:10am]
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