This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Baseball’s two best teams will begin a three-game set at Tropicana Field tonight and they’ll start it off with a bang. Perennial Cy Young candidates, David Price and CC Sabathia will get the ball on Monday night. Sabathia will have his second crack at obtaining 20 wins. Ivan Nova will face off against Matt Garza on Tuesday while Phil Hughes will face James Shields on Wednesday. All three of these games obviously have an impact on post-season implications. Buckle up and let’s dive into the numbers.

The Yanks and Rays have split their six games in St. Pete while the Rays hold the overall season series lead, 6-5. The two teams will play three games this week in Florida and will come to New York for a four-game set early next week. Winning games in St. Petersburg will not only extend the Yankees division lead, but it will serve as confidence heading into the postseason.

Keys To The Series:

#1. Slow Down Pena: Soon-to-be free agent Carlos Pena has had somewhat of a disappoint year, hitting only .201 and 26 HRs. However, he has killed the Yankees this year. In 32 at-bats, he has whacked five homers and driven in twelve. Pena has hit 18 of his 26 home runs against right-handed pitching so Nova and Hughes will need to be careful.

#2. The Price is Wrong: David Price has been absolutely electric at home. He beat the Yanks at the Trop back in April and has posted an 8-2 record with a 2.16 ERA at home. If the Yanks can get to him early, like they did last month at Yankee Stadium, they’ll be successful.

Tale of the Tape:


Monday, 7:10 PM, YES: CC Sabathia (19-6, 3.14 ERA) vs. David Price (17-6, 2.87 ERA)

Last Start:
Sabathia: Loss, 6 1/3 innings, five runs, five strikeouts (vs. BAL)
Price: Win, six innings, one run, two strikeouts (at BOS)

**Price is 1-1 with a 7.11 ERA against the Bombers this year. The Yanks touched him up for seven runs in five innings last month. Getting to Price early in the game is crucial for the Yanks.

**Sabathia is 1-1 against the Rays this year with a 2.53 ERA. He has won his last two decisions on the road.

Tuesday, 7:10 PM, YES: Ivan Nova (1-0, 2.92 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (14-8, 3.68 ERA)

Last Start:
Nova: ND, six innings, two runs, six strikeouts (vs. BAL)
Garza: Loss, 4 1/3 innings, six runs, one strikeout (at BOS)

**Nova has never faced the Rays.
**In one start against the Yanks this year, Garza threw seven innings of four-run ball. Garza is 1-3 with a 3.49 ERA against the Yanks.

Wednesday, 7:10 PM, ESPN: Phil Hughes (16-7, 4.26 ERA) vs. James Shields (13-12, 4.98 ERA)

Last Start:
Hughes: Loss, six innings, six runs, five strikeouts (vs. TOR)
Shields: ND, five innings, five runs, four strikeouts (at TOR)

**Hughes is 0-1 against the Rays this year with a 4.50 ERA. He has been very good on the road, turning in a 6-3 record and 3.32 ERA.
**In four starts against the Yanks this year, Shields is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA, proving his nickname “Big Game James”.

Enjoy the series!