Friday, April 18, 2014

Kuroda, Yanks look to capitalize on Rays' woes

The Yankees need no reminders of the numbers they've racked up over the past few seasons at Tropicana Field. They're well aware of the number of nights that they trudged out of the building, displeased with the outcome.

But with his pitching staff clicking and the Rays' offense sputtering, manager Joe Girardi hopes that this may be a good time to reverse some of those fortunes. The Yanks have allowed just four runs over their past four games, their fewest over a four-game stretch since 2003.

"You want to win every series, and four-game series are hard, but we got the first game, and we'll see what we do [on Friday]," Girardi said.

"They have a pretty good team. A lot of times, we were asked that question about the Angels, and they have a pretty good team, too. These guys have been successful, they play well in this building, obviously, and there is talent here."

The Yankees have won five consecutive games going into Friday's tilt at the Trop, where they're just 7-16 in their past 23 contests. That stat didn't hurt CC Sabathia on Thursday, and it will be Hiroki Kuroda's turn to buck the trend on Friday in his fourth start of the season.

Kuroda has been sharp this season, but he has struggled with the Rays in the past -- his 7.36 ERA in five career starts against them is his highest against any big league opponent. But Tampa Bay has scored just 16 runs over its past 10 games.

Veteran left-hander Erik Bedard will start for the Rays on Friday after being activated on Sunday. During Spring Training, he competed for the Rays' fifth starter spot. When he did not win the job, the Rays granted him his release so he could look for a Major League job with another club.

When that did not come to fruition, he returned to the Rays.

"I was just looking to see if there was another big league opportunity, but there wasn't," Bedard said. "My gut feeling was to come here. I love the guys. I love the front office, the coaches and all of that. I felt comfortable here, so I came back here."

Bedard is not sufficiently stretched out for the Rays to expect nine innings from him, but manager Joe Maddon believes he's capable of giving the team six.

"He's a competitor. He competes well," Maddon said. "He's had a lot of success, and he's healthy. We still believe there's a lot of good work left in him."

Yankees: Scary moment for Beltran
Carlos Beltran tumbled over a low wall in right field after chasing a Desmond Jennings foul ball in the third inning on Thursday, and though the impact looked bad, he stayed in the game. Beltran said that his left shoulder and right wrist are sore, and he is not sure if he will be able to play on Friday.

"As soon as the ball was hit, I knew it was going to be down the line," Beltran said. "I didn't want to take my eyes off the baseball because of the roof, and I just didn't really see it. I went over the wall. ... I've got to see how I'm going to wake up [on Friday]. Hopefully, I'm fine."

Rays: Another addition to the rotation
Bedard will become the seventh starting pitcher used by the Rays this season when he starts against the Yankees on Friday night.

The Rays employed eight starters in 2011 and 2012 before expanding to 10 in 2013 -- the most they've used in a season 2006 (12).

However, since 2008, Bedard will be only the 21st starter used by the Rays, three fewer than any other club (Giants, 24). The Orioles have used the most during that span (45).

Worth noting
  • Veteran right-hander Juan Carlos Oviedo is making progress at Triple-A Durham and, according to Maddon, he should be ready to join the team in the very near future. Oviedo's arrival will give the Rays an added piece to their bullpen.
  • The Yankees have won five consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 18-22, 2013.

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