(Sports Network) - Though the American League East is still on the line, the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees have such sizeable leads in the playoff race may have taken some of the buzz out of this four-game series.
Sabathia, fresh off his career-high 20th victory of the season, and Price will duel for the first time since their epic showdown nearly two weeks ago in the finale of tonight's key AL East clash at Yankee Stadium.
Price and Sabathia squared off in St. Petersburg back on Sept. 13, with both aces getting no-decisions despite scoreless eight-inning outings. Price allowed three hits over his stint, while Sabathia worked around two hits with nine strikeouts in a game the Rays won, 1-0, in 11 innings.
"It was kind of a Frasier-Ali; it was all there," Rays manager Joe Maddon told his team's official website. "Both guys were absolutely incredibly good tonight. They were."
Price then picked up his second straight no-decision Saturday versus the Angels, allowing three runs on four hits over seven innings. The 25-year-old southpaw saw his earned run average go up slightly to 2.79 to compliment a 17-6 record.
Price was drilled for seven runs over five innings in his last outing at Yankee Stadium, back on July 18, and is 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA lifetime versus New York.
Meanwhile, Sabathia become baseball's first 20-game winner on Saturday, when he picked up a victory in Baltimore. The lefty yielded three runs over seven innings, improving to 20-6 with a 3.05 ERA.
"I didn't think about [20 wins] at all in Tampa, I didn't think about it at all [Saturday]," said Sabathia. "Just trying to go out and make good pitches and help us try to get a win."
The 30-year-old returns to Yankee Stadium for the first time since having his 21-decision unbeaten streak at home dating back to last year halted on Sept. 7 by the Orioles. Sabathia had been 16-0 over that run and is still 11-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 21 starts this year at Yankee Stadium.
The former Cy Young Award winner is 8-4 with a 2.90 ERA lifetime versus the Rays, who after losing the first two contests of this set, snapped a three- game overall losing streak with a 7-2 victory last night.
Dan Johnson, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria all homered in the win, which featured a two-hour and 11-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third inning that knocked out both starting pitchers. Crawford and Longoria went back-to- back in the seventh frame and drove in two runs each.
Tampa Bay, which is 6 1/2 games up in the AL Wild Card race, pulled to within 1 1/2 games of New York for the top spot in the division. The Rays' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is five, while it is three for the Yankees.