What's new: It will be an emotional weekend in New York with tributes to mark the deaths of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and public-address announcer Bob Sheppard. The Yankees are playing well, too, having won nine of their past 11 before the break to post a majors-best 54-32 mark. Plus, they have their pitching lined up, and 1B Mark Teixeira has been hot. 3B Alex Rodriguez does have a thumb issue, and middle relief remains a concern.
Key stat: This is the first time since 2004 the Yankees led the AL East at the All-Star break. The previous eight times they did, they won it.
Connections: Rays LHP Randy Choate is a former Yankee as are bullpen coach Bobby Ramos and senior adviser Don Zimmer. Yankees reliever Chad Gaudin and pitching coach Dave Eiland are former Rays.
Series history: Rays lead 3-2 this year; Yankees lead 135-72 overall, 71-31 in New York and 6-5 at the new Yankee Stadium.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer