As we reach the baseball season, it was supposed to be the Tampa Bay Rays who were a mess in the American League East. Instead, the Rays are in first place. and it is the New York Yankees who appear broken, having lost five straight games and nine of their last 12.
Well, the aging Yankees shuffle into Tropicana Field with their walking sticks, wheelchairs, sore elbows, wounded shoulders, miniscule batting averages and punctured pride to begin a brief two-game series with the Rays Monday night. A.J. Burnett pitches for New York and David Price for Tampa Bay.
Over the past couple of weeks the Yankees have not hit well, their defense has been shoddy, their pitching -- especially their bullpen -- has been spotty, and their baserunning has been questionable at times. All signs of a struggling team.
AL East Standings
Which, really, is what most experts thought the 23-17 Rays would be this season. After losing outfielder Carl Crawford to Boston and closer Rafael Soriano to the Yankees, as well as first baseman Carlos Pena, pitcher Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett, and suffering through the Manny Ramirez retirement the Rays are still finding a way to win. They are two games in front of the Yankees in the division standings.
Speaking of Soriano, the Yankees don't know when their $35-million set-up man is going to pitch again. Soriano took some time off last week and had an MRI on his elbow. He pitched Friday against Boston, but has been shut down since with a recurrence of the elbow stiffness that had been bothering him. He is not expected to pitch against Tampa Bay and could be headed to the disabled list.