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Ernest Hooper’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Yankees game

Bullpen decisions, All-Star rest and first-half successes all forecast into the second season.
 
Tampa Bay Rays Kevin Kiermaier, right, celebrates with teammate Willy Adames after defeating the New York Yankees during their baseball game Sunday in St. Petersburg. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
Tampa Bay Rays Kevin Kiermaier, right, celebrates with teammate Willy Adames after defeating the New York Yankees during their baseball game Sunday in St. Petersburg. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
Published July 7, 2019|Updated July 9, 2019

• It will be interesting to see how the Rays construct their bullpen coming out of the All-Star break. Andrew Kittredge, Emilio Pagan and Colin Poche appear to be the most bankable relievers now, but that leaves the team with big decisions on others. Diego Castillo is on the IL, Jose Alvarado might land on the IL (was scheduled for an MRI exam Sunday) and the revolving door between St. Petersburg and Triple-A Durham offers no shortage of possibilities. A trade also could be in the offering. Stay tuned.

Related: MORE RAYS: Tampa Bay downs Yankees to earn split in four-game series

• Some questioned the Yankees’ decision to bench All-Stars DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres as they prepped for Tuesday’s showcase. The question loomed larger after the 1-5 hitters went 1-for-19 with 11 Ks. Rays starter Charlie Morton struck out Aaron Judge three times, and Aaron Hicks and Edwin Encarncion fanned twice against Morton. LeMahieu, an MVP candidate, and Torres might have made a difference.

Related: MORE RAYS: Morton's Sunday performance a snapshot of first half success

• At 52-30, the Rays enter the beak with the fourth-most wins in franchise history. The other three teams (2008, 2010 and 2013) all made the playoffs. If Tampa Bay plays slightly above .500 ball in the second half (40-31), it will finish with 92 wins. Every team with more than 90 wins made the playoffs in 2018, though at exactly 90 wins, the Rays just missed out.