Yanks, Sabathia try to reverse trend vs Rays

April, 22, 2013
4/22/13
1:49
PM ET

AP Photo/Brian BlancoCC Sabathia has struggled against the Rays since joining the Yankees, going 3-8 in 18 starts.
Tropicana Field has not been a very welcoming host to the New York Yankees and CC Sabathia, but tonight New York has a chance to start reversing that trend when they take on the Tampa Bay Rays (7 ET, ESPN and WatchESPN) in the first game of a three-game set.

New York went 2-7 at Tampa Bay last season and is 9-18 over the last three years at Tropicana Field. From 2007-09, the Yankees won 15 of the 27 games played in Florida against the Rays.

Pitching Matchup
CC Sabathia will take the mound tonight looking to reverse his fortune against the Rays on the road. The Yankees are just 6-12 in Sabathia’s last 18 starts against Tampa Bay, and just 1-7 in his eight starts at Tropicana Field since he joined the team in 2009!

Sabathia has gotten off to a good start this season, going 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sabathia has never won more than three games in April in his previous 12 career seasons. He won three in April for the Cleveland Indians in 2007 and three of the Yankees in both 2010 and 2012. For all other months combined, he’s won at least four games 20 times.

Opposing Sabathia will be Matt Moore, who is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in three starts this season. His fastball has been great this season (he averages 92 MPH on that pitch), but his offspeed pitches have been even better.

However, he’ll have to be careful throwing changeups to Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells, who are hitting .556 (ninth) and .500 (11th) against changeups, respectively, this season.

Offensive Comparison
So far in the early going, these two teams could not be further apart in terms of offensive production. Despite missing Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees offense keeps humming, and hitting home runs. New York ranks in the top five in baseball in slugging percentage (.467, 2nd), batting average (.273, 3rd), and OBP (.339, 5th).

With all the power the Yankees are missing – nine of their top 10 home run hitters from last season are not on the roster – power was expected to be at a premium. However, they have already hit 27 home runs so far this season, good for third-best in the majors.

As for the Rays, they are at the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to offense this season. Part of it is due to an incredibly low batting average on balls in play (.260, last in the majors).

Stat of the Game
Evan Longoria is 14-for-39 (.359) with three doubles and five home runs against Sabathia. That is Longoria’s most home runs against any pitcher and only Alfonso Soriano (six) has hit more home runs against Sabathia than Longoria (Jermaine Dye has also hit five home runs against Sabathia).

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