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|ST. PETERSBURG Braden Smith Color Rush Jersey , Fla. — The New York Yankees are the only team in baseball yet to lose three games in a row this season, but that could end Sunday with a sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay (36-40) posted a 4-0 victory Saturday at Tropicana Field after a 2-1 win Friday. For the second day in a row, the Rays relied on a patchwork relievers-as-starters bullpen-day approach.
The Yankees have not gone this late into a season without losing three in a row since August 1954.
The Rays have an actual starter on the mound Sunday in Blake Snell, who looks like an All-Star with a 9-4 record and 2.48 ERA. But he’s 0-2 against the Yankees with a 9.72 ERA, including his only loss in his last seven outings.
On June 14, Snell gave up four runs in five innings in a loss to the Yankees. By comparison, he has a 0.95 ERA in three outings against the Boston Red Sox.
Snell’s career record against the Yankees is 2-4 with a 4.89 ERA in 10 starts.
If Snell has the Yankees (50-24) as a nemesis, New York starter Domingo German (2-4, 4.77 ERA) is nearly the opposite — he had no wins in his first 11 appearances of the season until a June 14 game against the Rays when he lasted six innings and gave up three runs and five hits with a season-high 10 strikeouts for his first victory of the year. German made it two straight wins with a 7-2 victory over Seattle on Tuesday, striking out nine.
A Rays sweep of the Yankees would be unexpected, given that they opened the season with five straight wins over Tampa Bay by a combined score of 31-10. The Rays had lost five of seven entering the series, but now are one win from a sweep.
“That road trip kind of knocked us in the mouth a little bit,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We faced arguably the two best teams in the American League (Yankees and Astros). … To be able to come back here, take the off day, get back at home and the fans, my gosh Kemoko Turay Color Rush Jersey , the fan support that we’ve gotten has been outstanding, and to find a way to win two games has to be special for this clubhouse.”
The Yankees have dominated in the first three months of the season and so scoring one run in a span of two nights is concerning but nothing Aaron Boone is too worried about long term. The Yankees haven’t had extended hitting slumps this season, so he’s eager to see his lineup get back to business even before the squad leaves town.
“You’re going to hit a little dry spell like that,” Boone said. “Overall, we haven’t really been mounting much since that big inning a couple of days ago. Over the course of 162 games, that is going to happen. We just have to keep grinding at it and really come back and have that urgency (Sunday), to try to get out of here with one (win) under our belt.”
Matt Kemp wasn’t supposed to last long in his return to Los Angeles. He was tabbed as trade bait after arriving from Atlanta in exchange for a salary dump by the Dodgers.
The 33-year-old slugger has made himself at home again in a hurry.
Kemp got three hits and drove in four runs, including a go-ahead homer leading off the eighth inning that rallied the Dodgers past the Colorado Rockies 6-4 on Sunday to prevent a sweep and end a three-game skid.
Kemp is on track to earn his third All-Star nod and first since 2012. He’s the second-leading vote-getter, ahead of Washington’s Bryce Harper, among NL outfielders.
”That’s what the All-Star Game is, having a good first half,” Kemp said. ”My real focus is trying to get to the playoffs and win a championship, something I’ve never done.”
Kemp was 1 for 6 in the first two games of the series, which the Dodgers lost by identical scores of 3-1. He has been solid in his last 14 games against Colorado, batting .438 with 11 RBIs.
”He showed in spring training he was in shape and was hitting from the start,” Dodgers starter Ross Stripling said.
Kemp sent his 14th homer of the season over the center-field wall off Adam Ottavino (4-2) to put Los Angeles ahead 5-4. It was the Dodgers’ first homer of July after they hit a major league-leading and franchise-record 55 in June.
One out later Tyquan Lewis Color Rush Jersey , Yasiel Puig doubled. Joc Pederson followed and reached on an infield single to second that DJ LeMahieu dived to stop. Puig made a heads-up baserunning play when he scored an insurance run after taking an extra base on Pederson’s hit.
Puig took advantage of LeMahieu’s soft throw from his knees to first baseman Ian Desmond.
”DJ slipped,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. ”If DJ wanted to do it over again he would probably give a firmer throw to Desmond to get it back in.”
Puig hopped back and forth before taking off for the plate, sliding belly first. He got up and swung his arms in wild celebration with the Dodgers ahead 6-4.
”I do my crazy move and score,” Puig said. ”I said in my mind, `He’s not going to throw me out, I’m going home.’ Not too many players who score from third base in that situation.”
Kemp agreed, saying, ”Everyone is living right.”
Kemp drove in the Dodgers’ first three runs with an RBI groundout in the first, a double in the third and a single in the fifth.
Daniel Hudson (3-2) went one inning. Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save.
Nolan Arenado hit his team-leading 21st homer and had an RBI grounder, helping the Rockies take a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
Rockies starter Chad Bettis was pulled after three innings because of fluid underneath a callus on his right middle finger. The right-hander allowed two runs and three hits, struck out two and walked two in his shortest outing of the season.
”It is really painful,” Bettis said. ”It is kind of something that is a little bit of a mental block trying to battle through that pain. I felt like it got to the point where I really needed to say something.”
Stripling gave up four runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings. The right-hander struck out seven and walked one.
Rockies: RHP Bryan Shaw (right calf strain) will throw a bullpen session on Monday and simulated game on Wednesday. He is working on mechanics with his delivery and more consistent pitch locations.
Rockies: LHP Kyle Freeland (7-6, 3.29 ERA) makes his second straight start against the Giants on Monday in the home opener of a three-game set. He is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA at Coors Field in his career against them.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood (4-5, 4.00) starts on Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the Pirates. In eight games (seven starts) against them, Wood is 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA.
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