First Pitch: House of Horrors awaits Yanks

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
7:00
AM ET
Tropicana Field J. Meric/Getty ImagesWho can say what's on tap starting today at the Trop?
It's no secret Tropicana Field is a house of horrors for the Yankees. They're 1-5 there this year and are 2-10 in their past 12 games when facing the Rays in Florida.

Starting today, Tropicana Field can again be a nightmare for the Bombers as they could potentially fall out of first place or find themselves tied for the division lead. That could mark the first time the Yankees were not in first place since they were tied for the division lead on June 11. They officially took sole possession of first on June 12.

This year, the Rays have swept the Yankees at home at the beginning of the season and took two of three when the teams met from July 2-4. Overall, the Yankees are 5-7 against Tampa, and if they want to stay in first in the division, they're going to have to find a way to beat the Rays at the Trop this week.

While the Yankees face the Rays, who are just 3 1/2 games out of first, the Orioles travel to Toronto. Obviously there's a big difference in the level of competition there. If the Yankees go 1-2, Baltimore could tie them in the standings with a sweep of the Blue Jays. If the Yankees get swept, Baltimore could potentially take over first with a sweep.

The Yankees have not been good since the All-Star break -- they're just 24-24. They're banged up, they're not playing well and they've suddenly got a division race on their hands. They're going to have to start winning series if they want to fend off Tampa Bay and Baltimore, who don't look like they're going away.

And they're going to have to start in a place that's been full of losses for them.

UP NOW: News stories about Alex Rodriguez likely being back in the lineup Monday, and Curtis Granderson missing the game. Mike Mazzeo wrote about the state of the Yankees. I wrote about Joe Girardi's decision to keep Phil Hughes in and Chris Dickerson's nice day.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Wallace Matthews will have you covered on Labor Day as the Yankees face the Rays. Thanks again for reading.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .288
HRM. Teixeira 20
RBIJ. Ellsbury 64
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .787
ERAH. Kuroda 3.88
SOM. Tanaka 135