The American League East is the toughest division in baseball. The top four teams in the East are all on pace to earn the playoff berths in a sweep of the Wild Card race, and all four have winning percentages of .540 or higher. At the top, however, the race for the AL East title is turning into a runaway.
The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball at 46-16, and New York has won six straight to open up a nine-game lead, second only to the Astros’ 9.5-game lead in the AL West. Let’s see what the MLB odds tell us at the best sportsbooks and break down
Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
Thursday, June 16, 2022 – 07:05 PM EDT at Yankee Stadium
The Yankees have won 13 of their last 14 games, including the first two games against perennial division rival Tampa Bay. New York took a 2-0 win over Tampa in the opener and won, 4-3 in Wednesday’s game, which was interrupted by a 16-minute rules debate over a pitching change.
The New York Yankees will now try to complete the sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, who have lost four of the last five to fall a season-worst 11 games back in the division race.
Sloppy Play and Injuries
It doesn’t take much to make the difference in a one-run game between top teams, and the Rays had one miscue, which allowed the Yankees to pull away in Wednesday’s game.
Outfielder Brett Phillips pulled up to avoid colliding with Manuel Margot, and the communication breakdown allowed the ball to fall in, leading to a Yankees rally that turned a 1-0 lead into 4-0.
It was the third straight game that a Rays outfielder has misplayed a ball, and Tampa has given up 43 unearned runs on the season, second most in the Major Leagues.
Phillips was in centerfield for the game-breaking fly ball, because starting centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier left the game in the third inning with soreness in his Achilles and calf.
The soreness, which is in his left leg, started last week. It wasn’t clear whether he’d be able to return for Thursday’s series finale. The team also lost starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen, who was placed on the injured list before the game.
Thursday is Rasmussen’s regular day to start, so the Rays will likely turn to a bullpen game. Jalen Beeks will get the ball to start Thursday’s game. He’s 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA on the year. He’ll serve as the opener, the second time this season he’s gotten the call to start in 16 appearances. He pitched the first two innings, allowing no runs on one hit, in a May 30 Tampa loss to Baltimore.
The Yankees are looking to return to the World Series for the first time since 2009, and the team is putting up some historic numbers as it dominates regular season play. Wednesday’s win was New York’s 13th straight at home, a team record for the new Yankee Stadium. It’s the longest Yankee home win streak since 1973, and New York’s record is its best after 62 games since its 114-win season of 1998.
In their last 14 games—13 of which were wins—the Yankees have scored 10 or more runs four times, including an 18-4 win over the Cubs on Sunday. They’ve also had four shutouts. They’ve won six by five runs or more and four by one run, including two walk-offs.
“They’ve found ways to win,” said manager Aaron Boone. “Obviously we have some guys that are having great starts to their season individually, but everyone in that room has contributed in so many different ways: defensively, running the bases, out of the pen, starting rotation.
Just a lot of different ways we’ve been able to win games. I think that gives everyone a lot of confidence going into each day knowing we don’t have to do it just one way.”
The Yankees will start Luis Severino, who will make the 100th start of his career. He is 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA this year.
The Yankees are 30 games over .500 after 62 games. It’s expensive to pick them, especially with a potential All-Star on the mound against a Rays bullpen game, but you’ve got to ride the streak, at this point. Take the Yankees with your MLB picks, and count on plenty of runs after two relatively low-scoring games between the two teams.
MLB Pick: Yankees (-235) with BetOnline
MLB Pick: Over 7.5 (-122) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.